Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40 years' jail for war crimes

  • 25/03/2016
Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40 years' jail for war crimes

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been sentenced to 40 years in jail, by UN judges who found him guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, as well as nine other war crimes charges.

Karadzic, 70, is the most senior political figure to be convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He was found guilty of 10 out of 11 war charges. He was acquitted of a second count of genocide in various towns across Bosnia during the war of the 1990s.

The judges said Karadzic was criminally responsible for the siege of Sarajevo and had committed crimes against humanity in Bosnian towns. They said he had intended to eliminate the Bosnian Muslim males in the town of Srebrenica, where 8000 Muslims died in Europe's worst war crime since World War Two.

Radovan Karadzic sentenced to 40 years' jail for war crimes

Stacks of unidentified corpses line the walls of an underground shelter at a Bosnian morgue in Tuzla in March 1997. The body bags contain victims found in mass graves and wooded areas in Srebrenica (Reuters)

Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said the three-year Sarajevo siege, during which the city was shelled and sniped at by besieging Bosnian Serb forces, could not have happened without Karadzic's support.

"Accordingly, the chamber finds that the only reasonable inference available on such evidence is that the accused shared with [Ratko] Mladic, [Ljubisa] Beara and [Vujadin] Popovic the intent that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed, which the chamber finds amounts to the intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica as such," the judge said while delivering the lengthy verdict.

"The chamber finds that the accused knew or had reason to know that crimes had been committed by his subordinates in the aftermath of the fall of the Srebrenica enclave and that he failed in his duty as supreme commander to take necessary and reasonable measures to punish the commission of genocide, murder, extermination and killings as an underlying act of persecution," judge O-Gon Kwon said, adding that Karadzic will not be charged for these failures, as he is already found personally responsible for the acts of genocide committed in the Srebrenica Joint Criminal Enterprise.

His sentence will be reduced by slightly more than seven years for time already spent in detention. It will be served in an as-yet-undetermined state prison. He is expected to appeal, a process that could take several more years.

As the judges described the siege of Sarajevo, Karadzic looked pained and his face tightened into a grimace.

When he was ordered to stand for sentencing, he listened with eyes mostly downcast. After the sentence was read and judges departed, he sat back heavily in his chair.

Karadzic was arrested in 2008 after 11 years on the run, following a war in which 100,000 people were killed as rival armies carved Bosnia up along ethnic lines that largely survive today.

He headed the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and was Supreme Commander of its armed forces. He said in an interview ahead of the verdict that he had worked to uphold peace and deserved praise, not punishment.