The Hague: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was convicted of genocide by U.N. judges on Thursday, for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst against humanity in Europe since World War II.
Mr. Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing 8,000 Muslim men and boys, and removing other 20,000 people out of the territory,using terror tactics, including the rape of women and girls by Bosnian Serb soldiers in 1995, in lethal ethnic cleansing operations.
Karadzic, who represented himself throughout his eight-year trial, has maintained his innocence and claimed his wartime actions were intended to protect Serbs.
He said in an interview that.”I know what I wanted, what I did, even what I dreamed of, and there is no reasonable court that would convict me.”
Karadzic said. “The unnecessary killing of a single man is horrifying, let alone certainly several hundred at least… Those who did it are the enemies of the Serbs first, then enemies of those families, then of the Muslim community.”
The trial was the most important in the 23-year history of the United Nations.
Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said “Karadzic was criminally responsible for murder, attacking civilians, and terror for overseeing the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, during the 1992-95 war”.
“Far from preventing it, he ordered they be transferred elsewhere to be killed,” the judge said.
The United Nations human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, said in a statement, “Twenty-one years after Karadzic was indicted, this verdict is a forceful manifestation of the international community’s implacable commitment to accountability.”
Karadzic’s lawyer, Peter Robinson, said his client was “astonished” by the ruling.
“President Karadzic was disappointed. He doesn’t feel he is legally responsible for any crimes. Nobody has really won from today’s judgment,” Robinson said.