Saturday 15 August 2020

Radovan Karadzic, the Butcher of Bosnia, given life sentence on appeal

Photos of victims in front of the court. Photo: Molly Quell

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has been given a life sentence on appeal at the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Karadzic was convicted of war crimes in 2016 and given a 40-year sentence for his role in the massacre at Srebrenica and other crimes during the Yugoslavian civil war.

His legal team had appealed against his sentence on a long list of grounds, most of which were dismissed by the court.

The prosecution also appealed, asking for the court to extend Karadzic’s sentence to life. They argued the trial court failed to consider the sentences for other individuals involved Karadzic’s crimes, which were much longer.

The appellate court agreed, calling this case ‘the largest and greatest set of crimes ever attributed to a single person before the court.’

A cheer when up from the courtroom gallery when the new sentence of life was read out. Mothers of many of the victims of the Srebrenica Massacre were present in the room. They had hung signs and banners in the front of the court ahead of the verdict, with pictures of their loved ones.

Karadzic came to power after the break-up of Yugoslavia following the death of dictator Josip Broz Tito. The resulting conflict lasted for ten years and killed an estimated 140,000 people, including 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica who were being guarded by Dutch peacekeeping forces.

The Dutch soldiers were overrun by Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska forces led by Ratko Mladić. Mladić was sentenced to life in prison by the tribunal in 2017.

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