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22 July 2016
News

Radovan Karadzic Appeals Against Genocide Conviction

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic is appealing against the Hague Tribunal’s verdict sentencing him to 40 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Radovan Karadzic announced on Friday that he is appealing against his conviction by the UN war crimes court in March this year, saying that the verdict should be annulled, he should be acquitted or a “new, fair trial” should be held.

Karadzic was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

According to the verdict, the crimes were committed as part of four joint criminal enterprises in which Karadzic was a protagonist.

Karadzic said his appeal will not focus on disputing the facts of the crimes but whether he got a fair trial, although he added that this does not mean that the judges did not make numerous mistakes when determining the facts.

In an accompanying statement, which was conveyed to journalists by his defence lawyer Peter Robinson, Karadzic said he “neither had a fair trial nor a fair verdict before the Hague Tribunal”.  

“The trial chamber considered him guilty in advance and then constructed the verdict to justify its presumption,” Robinson added.

Karadzic insisted that the presumption of innocence was “violated” even before the beginning of his trial because the judges failed to “limit the amorphous indictment and make sure the prosecution would respect its obligation to disclose its evidence to the defence”.

All this meant that “a fair trial was not possible”, he claimed.

He said that during the course of the trial, the court “applied double standards, accepting the prosecution’s requests and declining the same requests by the defence”.

Karadzic said the injustice against him was most obvious in the part of the verdict convicting him of the Srebrenica genocide.

“The chamber concluded he had an intention to kill the captives from Srebrenica on the basis of its interpretation of a coded telephone conversation. Such a way of drawing conclusions is unfounded and incorrect, so the verdict is unfair,” Robinson said.

Commenting on the length of the sentence, the defence said that the judges did not take mitigating circumstances into consideration.

These include what Karadzic claim was his agreement with US envoy Richard Holbrooke in 1996 to withdraw from politics and public life. Karadzic insists that, in return, Holbrooke promised him he would not be tried in The Hague.

At the beginning of the trial, the Tribunal judges rejected the Holbrooke claim as irrelevant to the trial. Karadzic said he interpreted this as “the first sign that those who implement so-called international justice ignore laws and facts when it suits them”.

The defence also argued that the judges did not give sufficient credit to Karadzic’s behaviour during the war, when it said he “offered help to victims and detainees and prevented crimes”.

Karadzic also cooperated with the Tribunal instead of dismissing it as illegal, his defence team said.

“President Karadzic sincerely believed his trial would be an exemplary process in which the international community would determine the truth about the war in Bosnia. Instead of that, he was subjected to a political process, which was designed simply to confirm the demonisation of him as an individual and Bosnian Serbs as a people,” it said.

Karadzic’s statement concluded by insisting that “international justice is a failed project”.

“Judges, who know little about the region, its culture, its languages or its history, use procedures that are not familiar to those living in the region, conduct trials in foreign languages and come to conclusions that are unfamiliar to what people in the region know is true,” he insisted.

“It is not strange that countries like the USA, Russia or China refuse to allow such trials to be conducted against their citizens,” he added.

Meanwhile the Hague prosecution also announced on Friday that it will appeal, saying it will ask for Karadzic to be found guilty of the genocide in seven other Bosnian municipalities in 1992, and for his sentence to be raised to life imprisonment.

The appeals chamber of the Mechanism for International Tribunals, which is taking over the remaining work of the Hague Tribunal as it shuts down, will rule on the appeals. There is no deadline for delivering the ruling.
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