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Top 10 Radovan Karadzic Genocide Conviction Facts

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris He'd been on the run for over a decade, and on trial for more than 5 years, but in March 2016 a verdict was finally delivered in the case against this one-time Bosnian War leader. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we're counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the Radovan Karadžić Sentence.

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Need To Know Radovan Karadzic Sentence Facts

He’d been on the run for over a decade, and on trial for more than 5 years, but in March 2016 a verdict was finally delivered in the case against this one-time Bosnian War leader. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we’re counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the Radovan Karadžić Sentence.

#10: Who Is Radovan Karadžić?
The Former President

A former psychiatrist, Radovan Karadžić served as the first President of Republika Srpska, a major political division in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Karadžić’s RS fought for the Serbian population during the Bosnian civil war between 1992 and 1995, which was part of the breakup of Yugoslavia. A commanding leader, he was actually admired by many during his early days as president; the Greek Orthodox Church described him as ‘one of the most prominent sons of our Lord Jesus Christ working for peace’. However, his methods became increasingly less admirable, and post-Bosnian War, Karadžić was answerable to a long list of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

#9: What Was the Outcome of the Court Trial?
The Charges

Facing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which was established in May 1993, Karadžić was found guilty of 10 out of 11 counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity, murder, and severe breaches of the Geneva Convention. The court found Karadžić guilty of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995, but he was acquitted of a second charge, relating to a series of killings staged in Serbian municipalities around Bosnia, in 1992. In total, Karadžić was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment on March 24th, 2016.

#8: What Is the Bosnian Genocide?
The Extermination

The Bosnian Genocide was an ethnic cleansing campaign carried out against Bosniaks (or Bosnian Muslims) and Bosnian Croats throughout the war, between 1992 and 1995. Bosnian Serb perpetrators captured, murdered, raped, assaulted and tortured victims, deported whole communities, targeted civilians, and destroyed homes, businesses and places of worship. Karadžić is the highest-ranking official currently held responsible for the atrocities. Former President of Serbia, Slobodan Milošević, had been on trial for numerous counts relating to genocide as well, but he died before his case could be concluded.

#7: What Is the Srebrenica Massacre?
The Attack

Carried out in July 1995, the Srebrenica massacre saw Bosnian Serbs round-up up to 8,373 Muslim Bosniaks, predominantly men and boys, before systematically shooting them and dumping their bodies in mass graves. In April 1993, the United Nations had declared the region a ‘safe area’ under its protection, but the Army of Republika Srpska proved too strong for Srebrenica defences. The massacre, for which Karadžić has been found guilty of genocide, was descried in 2005, by the Secretary-General of the UN at the time, Kofi Annan, as the ‘worst crime on European soil since the Second World War.’

#6: Who Else Is on Trial for Genocide?
The Military Leader

Ratko Mladić is also on trial for his role serving as the Chief of Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska. The military leader often labelled as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, Mladić is accused of committing genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity – he’s particularly linked to the Srebrenica massacre and the 1,425-day Siege of Sarajevo. A figure even Karadžić labelled a ‘mad man’, he was arrested in Serbia on May 26th, 2011, almost 16 years after the end of the Bosnian War. Mladić was extradited to The Hague on May 31st, 2011, where his trial by the ICTY remained ongoing as of early 2016.

#5: What Is the Controversy Surrounding the Genocide?
The Denial

At present, allegations and charges are laid against Karadžić and the Republika Srpska, a breakaway faction of Bosnian Serbs. However, some analysts argue that Serbia itself should be implicated in the case, and that charges of genocide should be put against the country as a whole. The Army of Republika Srpska had close ties to Belgrade, with some commentators suggesting that it was funded, equipped and generally controlled by the Serbian capital city. Arguments against Serbia are strengthened by the fact that many wartime documents were never made public, or were only partly available; the Serbs say this is for security reasons, but some onlookers claim it to be part of a cover up.

#4: How Did Karadžić Evade Trial for 10 Years?
The Manhunt

Despite being indicted by an international war crimes tribunal in July 1995, Karadžić wasn’t captured and arrested until July 2008. In the intervening time, he’d been hiding in plain sight, posing as an expert in alternative medicine in Belgrade, and also in Vienna. The former president took on variations of the alias ‘Dr. Dragan David Dabić’, had his own website, wrote for alternative medicine magazines, gave lectures, carried business cards, and was based in a local clinic. When he was arrested in Belgrade, his physical transformation left many unsure that it was the same man.

#3: How Did Karadžić Evade Trial for 10 Years? Part II
The Evasion

Even when caught, Karadžić worked to delay the trial for as long as possible, mostly by threatening boycotts and opting to represent himself in court. He also alleged that he’d been on the run because of an agreement made with leading American Democrat, Richard Holbrooke, in which Holbrooke had agreed that Karadžić would not be sent to The Hague tribunal if he withdrew from politics; Holbrooke dismissed the claim as a ‘flat-out lie’. Karadžić continually argued that there was an unfair agenda against him as well, and initially refused to enter a plea entirely – the court had to enter a ‘not guilty’ plea to all 11 charges on his behalf.

#2: Are There Supporters of Karadžić?
The Serbians

Karadžić’s conviction has not been well received by everyone - as for many Serbians, the former leader is a nationalist icon, and to this day he remains a unifying force. When Karadžić was arrested in 2008, the New York Times spoke with Ivan Sasic, then 19 and a member of the Radical Party; ‘We feel sad,’ said Mr. Sasic, ‘because we’re giving away a hero, a man who was a hero for us.’ The March 2016 verdict against Karadžić inspired a protest rally in the streets of Belgrade. Thousands of people marched for the convicted genocidist, chanting anti-EU and anti-US sentiments.

#1: Is This Sufficient Restitution for the Survivors?
The Outcome

While Karadžić’s 40-year sentence is too harsh in the opinion of his supporters, it’s far too short for those against him, including the families of his victims. The Guardian newspaper quotes Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her family at Srebrenica: ‘This judgment is a reward for Karadžić,’ she says, ‘We have no more faith in the prosecutors and judges.’ Nedzad Avdic, a survivor of Srebrenica, underlines what many believe is an injustice; ‘Whatever punishment he gets, there is no punishment severe enough for people like that,’ he says, ‘given the horrors they put us through.’ While Karadžić has finally been made to answer for his crimes, his victims believe that the sentence is not strong enough; the punishment is too little, and it has certainly come too late.

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