Radovan Karađžić Guilty, Sentenced to 40 Years: Reaction from Croatia

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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was found guilty of genocide by the UN court in Hague on March 24, 2016. Karadžić was found guilty on 10 out of total 11 counts, including the for the 1995 massacre of 8 000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Prosecutors said that Karadžić, as a political leader and commander-in-chief of Serb forces in Bosnia, was responsible for some the worst acts of brutality during the war, including the 44-month deadly siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys in the Srebrenica enclave.

After the verdicts were delivered, Serge Brammertz, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, said: “Moments like this should also remind us that in innumerable conflicts around the world today, millions of victims are now waiting for their own justice. This judgement shows that it is possible to deliver it.”

O-Gon Kwon, the presiding ICTY judge delivering the ruling, cleared Karadžić of one charge: responsibility for genocide in attacks on other towns and villages where Croats and Bosnians were driven out.

While delivering the verdict for war crimes in Srebrenica, Kwon said: “On the basis of the totality of the evidence, the [ICTY] finds that the accused shared the expanded common purpose of killing the Bosnian Muslim males of Srebrenica and that he significantly contributed to it.”

Karadžić was the only person with the power to intervene and protect those being killed, Kwon said. “Far from that,” he said, “the accused ordered Bosnian male detainees to be transferred elsewhere to be killed. With full knowledge of the ongoing killing, Karadžić declared a state of war in Srebrenica.”

The Croatian government expressed its satisfaction with the verdict. “We are aware that there is no punishment that could bring back the lives of innocent victims, but the conviction of one of the main actors of the aggressive Greater Serbian policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which resulted in genocide and horrible atrocities, is the minimum for which the victims and their families unfortunately had to wait too long. Croatian Government believes that the punishment of those responsible for war crimes is an essential precondition for a policy of reconciliation and stabilization of relations in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, announced the government in a statement.

First Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Karamarko announced his statement on Facebook .”The conviction of Radovan Karadžić represents a contribution to justice which victims of the Serbian aggression have been waiting for two decades. This verdict will not revive the dead, will not return dignity to the humiliated and will not build the demolished homes and other destroyed property, but it will certainly be a warning to all those who still entertain the idea that it is possible to achieve the goals about the creation of Greater Serbia. Bosnian Croats have stopped tank columns between Mostar and Široki Brijeg and have first stood against the planned Serbian aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina. When open aggressive acts of war began, Croats defended their homes which is why they made the biggest sacrifice in defence of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Finally, they gave the greatest contribution to breaking the Serbian aggression and to the military defeat of the aggressor. These are the reasons why Croats have a reason to consider this verdict as a recognition of their contribution to the preservation of the sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose constituent people they are”, wrote Karamarko.

Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovač issued the following statement: “Today’s conviction by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia against war criminal Radovan Karadžić provides an insufficient moral satisfaction to families of victims of his policy of systematic killings and abuse. Radovan Karadžić has been convicted. But his spirit has still not been defeated, as well as the legacy of his criminal and genocidal policy. Only when this is achieved, reconciliation among the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond will be possible.”

Former Prime Minister and SDP president Zoran Milanović also announced his reaction on Facebook. “No punishment will ever be able to eliminate the evil that has been done. The prison sentence of 40 years for a man who was the head of a joint criminal enterprise and whose actions led to the death of thousands of people and terrible suffering is little consolation to all the victims and their families. The war in Bosnia and Herzegovina was conducted with the aim to expel Croats and Bosniaks and to create Greater Serbia. The verdict is a clear warning to all those who still glorify war criminals, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that their policies are dangerous and internationally characterized as criminal”, wrote Milanović.


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