I was true friend to Muslims, Karadzic tells court

2014-10-01 14:29
Suspected war criminal and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. (File: AP)

Suspected war criminal and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. (File: AP)

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

The Hague - A defiant Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday told the Yugoslav war crimes court he was "a true friend" to Bosnia's Muslims, against whom he is accused of committing some of Europe's worst atrocities since World War II.

Speaking during closing arguments in his genocide and war crimes trial, Karadzic, 69, told the Hague-based UN tribunal "I was really a true friend to the Muslims".

"But this was all swept under the carpet," by the prosecution, said Karadzic, who is being tried on 11 counts including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Although he has taken "moral responsibility" for the atrocities committed by Bosnian Serbs during the Balkans' bloody 1992-95 war, Karadzic denies the criminal charges, including for his part in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which 8 000 people died.

Dressed in a crumpled charcoal suit, white shirt and maroon tie, Karadzic assumed the pose of a schoolmaster as he lectured prosecutors.

"I know the truth, the prosecution knows the truth, they are trying to delude the court," said Karadzic, his glasses perched on his nose and sporting his trademark bouffant hairdo.

Earlier he told the four-judge bench it "is the Serb people that stand accused."

'Moral responsibility'

Karadzic is accused of being one of the masterminds of ethnic cleansing during Bosnia's brutal 1990s war that claimed more than 100 000 lives and uprooted 2.2 million others.

A final verdict in the marathon five-year trial is not expected before late 2015.

The president of the former self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic faces a genocide charge for his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre.

Almost 8 000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves after Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-protected enclave in eastern Bosnia in July 1995.

Karadzic said he would address the court on Srebrenica on Thursday.

In his final trial brief filed this week, he asked judges to look at mitigating factors should he be sentenced, including personal circumstances and his lack of prior convictions.

Despite still claiming his innocence, Karadzic also apologised to victims of the crimes, accepting responsibility as the serving president at the time.

Prosecutors wrapped up their arguments on Tuesday saying life behind bars "would be the only appropriate sentence".

They said Karadzic, along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, acted together to "cleanse" Bosnia's Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.

He has 10 hours to address judges on Wednesday and Thursday in what his lawyer Peter Robinson described as a "milestone" in his client's case.

Milosevic died midway through his own trial in March 2006 and his military alter ego Mladic went on trial in May 2012.

Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008 disguised as a faith healer. His trial opened in October the following year.

He was absent at the start, telling judges he had not had adequate time to prepare.

When he finally made his opening statement in March 2010, he told judges the wartime atrocities blamed on Bosnian Serbs were "staged" by their Muslim enemies and that the Srebrenica massacre was a "myth".

Read more on:    un  |  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.

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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

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


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.


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.