Karadzic 'driving force' of Bosnia's ethnic cleansing, UN court told

29th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was the "driving force" behind ethnic cleansing during Bosnia's bloody civil war, including some of the worst atrocities since World War II, the Yugoslav war crimes court heard on Monday.

"The policy of ethnic cleansing has been fully exposed as has Dr. Karadzic as its driving force," UN prosecutor Alan Tieger said during closing arguments at the marathon five-year trial before the Hague-based court.

"The tragedies, one-by-one-by-one, are his responsibility," Tieger told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Dressed in a crumpled charcoal suit, purple shirt, purple striped tie and sporting his trademark bouffant hairdo, the one-time president of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic and alleged mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre listened intently, his glasses perched on his nose.

Karadzic, 69, is facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the brutal 1990s Bosnian war which claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people.

- Plan to 'cleanse' Bosnia -

Prosecutors say Karadzic, along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, acted together to "cleanse" Bosnia's Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Members of the Mothers of Srebrenica group representing victims of the 1995 massacre, in which almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces, listened to closing arguments from the public gallery.

"We expect that (the) criminal Karadzic will get a life sentence, that he will be found guilty not only of the genocide of Srebrenica but also the genocide in other cities of Bosnia," their spokeswoman Munira Subasic said shortly before the hearing started.

The prosecution's final trial brief on Friday said a life sentence would be "the only appropriate sentence".

Apart from genocide, Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.

Tieger on Monday gave examples of victims slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces -- including in Sarajevo.

One victim "was buried at night, as had become the custom in Sarajevo, so that mourners could do it without being shot or shelled," the prosecutor said.

Prosecution and defence have 10 hours each for their arguments, with Karadzic expected to close his own defence on Wednesday and Thursday.

A verdict however is not expected before October 2015.

- 'Milestone' for Karadzic -

Karadzic's legal advisor Peter Robinson told AFP the hearings mark a "milestone" in his client's case.

It is "a final chance for him to make his case to the judges and the public," Robinson said.

Milosevic died midway through his own trial in March 2006 and Mladic went on trial in May 2012.

Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008 disguised as a faith healer and his trial opened in October the following year.

He was absent at the start, telling judges he had not had adequate time to prepare.

When he finally made his opening statement in March 2010, he told judges the wartime atrocities blamed on Bosnian Serbs were "staged" by their Muslim enemies and that the Srebrenica massacre was a "myth".

Later in his trial he told judges that he "should be rewarded" for doing everything possible to avoid Bosnia's bloody civil war.

But Tieger argued that Karadzic's attempt to "paint himself as a man of peace" was a facade.

"He was explicitly determined (not) to accept a sovereign, independent Bosnia," after Yugoslavia crumbled in 1991, said Tieger.


© 2014 AFP

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