I should be rewarded: Karadzic to court

2012-10-16 15:00
Suspected war criminal and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic smiles as he takes his seat on the defence bench in a courtroom to start his defence at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen/ AP)

Suspected war criminal and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic smiles as he takes his seat on the defence bench in a courtroom to start his defence at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. (Robin van Lonkhuijsen/ AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The Hague - A strident Radovan Karadzic told the UN Yugoslav war crimes court on Tuesday that he should be rewarded for doing everything to avoid war in Bosnia and insisted no one thought there would be genocide.

"I should have been rewarded for all the good things that I've done because I did everything within human power to avoid the war and to reduce the human suffering," the former Bosnian Serb leader told the court in The Hague as he began his defence against charges including genocide.

"Neither I nor anyone else that I know thought that there would be a genocide against those who were not Serbs," said Karadzic, who is notably charged with masterminding Europe's worst post-World War II massacre in the town of Srebrenica.

Looking relaxed and dressed in a black suit, light blue shirt and striped blue tie, Karadzic projected an image of a schoolmaster, with his glasses perched precariously on his nose, lecturing the court and occasionally smiling.

His words were met with incredulous cries and sniggers from the packed public gallery, where several survivors and victims' relatives sat.

Karadzic, aged 67, is accused of being one of the masterminds of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian war in the 1990s that claimed over 100 000 lives and uprooted millions from their homes. He faces a life sentence if convicted.

Lies, propaganda and rumours

"I am a mild man, a tolerant man, with a great capacity for understanding others," Karadzic, a published poet and trained psychiatrist before the war, told the court.

"I have nothing against Muslims or Croats" Karadzic told judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, claiming even his hairdresser was a Muslim before the war.

But he said Bosnia's Serbs believed a genocide was planned against them by the Muslims and Croat population who were arming themselves after Yugoslavia split in 1991. "It was no secret, we could see it. We were pushed into a corner."

As at the start of his trial in October 2009, Karadzic told judges that the atrocities blamed on Bosnian Serbs including the killings at Srebrenica were "lies, propaganda and rumours".

Brought to court after his arrest on a Belgrade bus in 2008, Karadzic is charged with masterminding the murder of nearly 8 000 Muslim men and boys by forces loyal to him in the eastern Bosnian enclave in July 1995.

The massacre was carried out by Bosnian Serb troops under the command of wartime general Ratko Mladic who overran Dutch UN peacekeepers meant to be protecting the enclave.

Role in Sarajevo siege

Over the space of a few days, thousands were systematically executed and dumped into mass graves.

Prosecutors say Karadzic, former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and Mladic acted together to "cleanse" Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Bosnia's Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Milosevic died midway through his own trial for genocide and war crimes in March 2006.

Karadzic is also charged for his alleged role in the siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo between May 1992 and November 1995 in which 10 000 people died under terrifying sniper and artillery fire.

Like Mladic, he has also been charged for his alleged role in taking hostage UN observers and peacekeepers to use them as human shields during a Nato bombing campaign against Bosnian Serb targets in May and June 1995.

Indicted by the ICTY in 1995, Karadzic spent 13 years on the run before being arrested in 2008 in Belgrade where he practised as a doctor of alternative medicine.

Greek president to testify

Judges dropped one genocide count in June, saying there was not enough evidence to substantiate the charge for killings by Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnian towns from March to December 1992.

Karadzic plans a four-hour statement to open his defence, followed by the testimony of Russian colonel Andrei Demurenko, the UN chief of staff in Sarajevo from January to December 1995.

Karadzic is to call witnesses including Greek President Carolos Papoulias, who was Greece's foreign minister during the Bosnian war.

Karadzic has said Papoulias' testimony could prove his innocence for the infamous shelling of Sarajevo's Markale market on 5 February 1994, in which 67 people died.

Tuesday is a historic day for the ICTY as it also saw the start of the trial of Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic, the last of 161 war crimes suspects to be handed over to the court.

Read more on:    ratko mladic  |  radovan karadzic  |  bosnia  |  yugoslavia

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.