Karadzic was warned of genocide, court told

23rd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

A US diplomat on Thursday told judges trying Radovan Karadzic he had warned the politician "that the Bosnian Serbs would commit a genocide".

Herbert Okun, who facilitated Bosnian peace talks between 1991 and 1993 on behalf of the UN, told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that he had been shocked by Karadzic's "constant references to the World War II genocide in Bosnia-Hercegovina against the Bosnian Serbs".

It had been Karadzic's position that areas in Bosnia that had a Serb majority before World War II should revert to the self-declared Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska, Okun told Karadzic's genocide trial.

"I do recall early on being somewhat shocked by all these constant references," the diplomat testified.

"I said to him that if he continued with that line of thinking, that one day he would commit a genocide himself, the Bosnian Serbs would commit a genocide. That was before the fighting began, actually.

"I have to say I didn't really take it seriously, when I said it, it was a verbal way of expressing shock at the argumentation that the World War II genocide justified Bosnian Serb behaviour."

More than 100,000 people were killed in two camps in Belgrade during the German occupation of Serbia during World War II.

Okun said Karadzic also expressed concern in talks that "the birth rate of the Bosnian Muslims ... would in a relatively short time give the Muslim population an absolute majority in Bosnia Hercegovina" to the detriment of the Serbs.

Karadzic, 64, faces 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide charges arising from Bosnia's 1992-95 war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million left homeless.

Among other accusations, he stands charged with the genocide of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Arrested in July 2008 after 13 years on the run, he is acting as his own defence lawyer.

© 2010 AFP

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