The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia found former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic guilty Thursday of genocide in Srebrenica in 1995 and responsible for crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995 following a 497-day trial.
Karadzic, 70, served as the supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb military and judges said the three-year siege of Sarajevo could not have happened without his approval. During the Srebrenica massacre approximately 8,000 Muslims were killed who were supposed to be under the protection of the United Nations. It was the worst massacre in Europe since World War II. More than 100,000 people died during the Bosnian war.
Judges dismissed one of the two genocide charges against Karadzic Thursday, saying the court “did not have the evidence to find beyond reasonable doubt that genocide was committed in these municipalities.” During the trial, he denied systemic ethnic cleansing and blamed Bosnian Muslims for violence during the war. Karadzic chose to defend himself, calling 248 witnesses.
Karadzic said in October 2015 he knew “of no one in the Serbian leadership who wanted to harm Muslims or Croats,” Radio Free Europe reported.
Sarajevo: #Karadzic found guilty of unlawful attacks on civilians, terror and two counts of murder.
— ICTY (@ICTYnews) March 24, 2016
The only official more senior than Karadzic who faced court was former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. He died while in custody in 2006 before a verdict could be reached. Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic is awaiting a judgment over his role in the Srebrenica massacre.
Serbian officials, including Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, have said they will stand with Bosnian Serbs and have made comments about the court being politically motivated targeting more Serbs than Croats or Bosnian Muslims.
Vucic said Serb officials “will protect their existence and their right to have their own state,” Reuters reported.
Karadzic, who was formerly a psychiatrist as well as a poet, was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after spending 11 years avoiding authorities. He remains in good health and faces 40 years of imprisonment although appeals are expected.