Washington: The US State Department welcomed the genocide conviction of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on Thursday, saying it closed “another painful chapter” for the former Yugoslavia.
“We’ll never forget the horrors of genocide in Bosnia, or the many other crimes committed on all sides of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, nor will we ever stop honoring their victims and survivors,” deputy spokesman Mark Toner said, touching briefly on the topic during his daily press briefing.
“With the trial chamber’s conviction, we move one step closer to closing yet another painful chapter in the story of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia,” he said.
UN war crimes judges said Karadzic, the most high-profile figure convicted over the wars that tore Yugoslavia apart, bore criminal responsibility for murder and persecution during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict.
He was given a 40-year sentence after being found guilty of charges including genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, extermination, deportations and hostage-taking.
The Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered, was the worst bloodshed on European soil since World War II.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power issued an impassioned statement on the conviction, saying, “This day is long overdue.”
Power, who was a journalist in the former Yugoslavia from 1993 to 1995, recounted her time in the diverse Bosnian capital of Sarajevo and her memory of Karadzic as a “gleeful propagandist for an ethnically pure Serb statelet” who had “utter absence of concern” for the violence he brought upon the city.
She said he seemed to operate with “impunity,” acting as if he would never be held accountable.
“This was a man who believed he could do what he wanted, when he wanted, consequences to others be damned,” she said, linking that violence to the present-day brutality of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“Today’s verdict sends those leaders and others like them a message: your crimes will never be forgotten, and one day you, too, will be held accountable for the horrors you have inflicted on civilians.”
The US role in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia included participating in NATO airstrikes on Bosnian Serb targets in 1995, as well as hosting talks later that year at a military base in the state of Ohio that ended with a peace deal signed by the presidents of Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia.