Today, before the Hague Tribunal, Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison. After five years of trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), today was pronounced the first-instance verdict to Karadzic, who was indicted for 11 counts in the indictment by the ICTY Prosecutor.
Karadzic was found guilty of all counts except for Count 1 (genocide in Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik). It has been determined that he was directly responsible for the genocide in Srebrenica and he was found guilty for organizing and crime during the siege of Sarajevo.
The first part of the judgment referred to the crimes committed in 20 municipalities. Since March 1992, the Serbian forces took over and they had “organized and clear plan of crimes” against non-Serb population during that time.
“A large number of non-Serb civilians was moved and expelled from their homes,” said the Judge O-Gon Kwon. “The Chamber concludes that the victims were forced to leave their homes due to attacks of Serbian forces. The civilians were harassed and tortured during their detention in camps, while a large number of women was raped in over 50 camps and detention sites within these 20 municipalities,” said Kwon.
The Trial Chamber concluded that the crimes were committed in seven municipalities but that there was no genocide in these municipalities. Imposed conditions in Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik, although difficult, were not intended to lead to partial or total destruction and there was no genocidal intention. However, a joint criminal enterprise that was carefully planned took place in seven municipalities (Bratunac, Foca, Kljuc, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Vlasenica and Zvornik).
The Trial Chamber concluded that the siege of Sarajevo was a joint criminal enterprise that was under the control of Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and the political leadership of Republika Srpska (Krajisnik, Plavsic and Mladic).
Dragomir Milosevic, Galic, Krajisnik, Koljevic, Karadzic and Mladic committed the joint criminal enterprise during the siege of Sarajevo. Karadzic supported Mladic’s attitude towards the siege of Sarajevo and personally approved attacks and prolongation of the siege. Considering that he had control over the army, it is considered that he had full responsibility in the strategic and operational terms. He was consistently informed on all attacks and crimes. Karadzic denied responsibility of the Sarajevo Romanija Corps and he accused forces of Bosnian Muslims, as well as refused to punish those responsible for the crimes. During all that time, not a single attempt was made to punish the soldiers who were responsible for killing the civilians.
The Chamber concluded that there was a joint criminal enterprise, whose member was Karadzic, which was aiming to take the observers as hostages in order to stop the NATO attacks.
“Not only that Karadzic intended to capture members of the UN, but he also intended to threaten them in order to carry out the intentions of members of the joint criminal enterprise,” said Kwon.
Karadzic directly approved to use the hostages as human shields at targets that were expected to be bombed.
The Chamber has no doubts that Karadzic knew that thousands of detainees were held by the VRS forces around Srebrenica and that they made significant percentage of the Bosniak population of Srebrenica.
“The accused agreed and did not stop murders from the 13th to 17th of July. He ordered transfer to Zvornik, where the killings took place,” said Kwon.
On the 13th of July around 8 pm, the fate of captured Srebrenica residents was discussed. The Chamber recalled that Beara and Deronjic discussed where the prisoners should be killed. It was clear that the decision according to which they should be killed was already made, and Deronjic referred to the authority of Karadzic when assuring Beara that the executions should be carried out.
“The accused did not prevent executions and he personally ordered transfer of detainees after which they were killed. After that, he was fully informed about the events on the field.”
During the trial, 586 witnesses were heard: 337 of the Prosecution, 248 of defense and one witness of the Trial Chamber.
Today’s verdict for Radovan Karadzic is definitely the most important one since the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was recently confirmed by the Hague tribunal chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz.