Karadzic Denies War Crimes Charges
October 16, 2012
Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic has begun his defense at the UN war crimes tribunal by denying all allegations against him.
Karadzic is facing 10 charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian War.
One charge relates to a massacre by Bosnian Serb troops at Srebrenica in July 1995 in which some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed.
"I never, ever allowed even the possibility for the smallest atrocity to take place, let alone any atrocities on a mass scale, or for any of these people to be permanently removed from Serbian territory," Karadzic said. "I did not, nor did anyone else that I know of."
Prosecutors at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia have also accused him of responsibility for the shelling of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, when it was under siege by Bosnian Serb forces from 1992 to 1996.
Instead of being accused of what happened during our civil war, I should have been awarded.
But Karadzic told the court that, far from being accused, he should praised for his efforts to promote peace.
"Instead of being accused of what happened during our civil war, I should have been awarded," he said, "and here is why: I did everything possible, [everything] in human power, to avoid the war."
His trial started in 2009 and prosecutors rested their case in May.
Karadzic, 67, who is defending himself and will cross-examine witnesses himself, told the court that he was a "mild, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others."
He has been allocated 300 hours to defend himself.
Karadzic was arrested in 2008, 13 years after he was first indicted on charges of masterminding Serb atrocities during the war.
In June, Karadzic had one charge of genocide dismissed. The charge was related to the forcible expulsion from Bosnia of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs.
In September, the UN court rejected Karadzic’s request for a new trial. Karadzic had accused prosecutors of being late in disclosing evidence favorable to his defense.
Former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, who was collaborating closely with Karadzic, went on trial in The Hague this year.
Meanwhile, Croatian Serb former rebel leader Goran Hadzic also went on trial at The Hague.
Hadzic, 54, is the last suspect charged by the international tribunal with war crimes during the Balkan wars to be prosecuted. He faces 14 accounts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1991-95 war in Croatia, including the massacre of civilians taken from Vukovar hospital in 1991.
Prosecutors say Hadzic, president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina from 1992-94, was responsible for killings and forced deportation of minority ethnic Croats from the region after the Croatian government in Zagreb broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.
He was arrested by Serbian authorities in 2011.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, BBC, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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