Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, infamously known as “the butcher of the Balkans,” was served up justice Thursday at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity.
He will serve 40 years in prison for his crimes, most notoriously for overseeing the 1995 execution of an estimated 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica, a Bosnian enclave that, at the time, was being “protected” by Dutch peacekeepers.
About a month later came the brutal bombing of civilians shopping at a market in Sarajevo— an atrocity that brought the severity of the Balkan wars into clear focus and jump-started a harder line with its perpetrators.
More than 20 years after the fact, Karadzic has been held accountable.
But like the trials for the Nazis, the genocidaires of Rwanda, Liberia’s war president Charles Taylor and Cambodia’s killing machine known as the Khmer Rouge, this moment took a long time to happen. A very long time.
Does it make up for the pain? Does it heal the traumas, the losses, the daily lives that have been forever shattered?
Grief is such a personal experience that it is nearly impossible to know.
What history tells us is that justice does come, evil acts are acknowledged—even if at a hopelessly slow pace and, oft times, in the most shallow way.
Justice at Last: Radovan Karadzic Found Guilty of Genocide and War Crimes
Emma Daly – Mashable
Today, the man who presided over the Bosnian Serb republic as his troops committed mass killings at Srebrenica, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and sentenced to 40 years in prison….
Karadžić, who defended himself, told the court in The Hague, “They’re trying to convict us for something we never did,” and described the siege of Sarajevo as a “myth.”
It took years for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to gather and present the evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity. Karadžić, in hiding for more than a decade until his arrest in 2008, has been on trial since 2009.
His conviction brings some comfort to those who survived his many crimes – in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and beyond. Above all, I hope that future warlords are taking note: justice will come one day.
Karadzic Verdict Vital to Bosnia’s Future
Allan Little – BBC News
Kemal Pervanic was 24 years old when Serb forces came to his village, in the Prijedor municipality of north-western Bosnia. The civilian people were rounded up. They had no weapons and put up no resistance.
The men were separated from the women and children, who were put on a fleet of buses and driven away to become refugees in parts of the country the Serbs did not claim as their own. The men were taken to internment camps and held there. Mr Pervanic was held for seven months.
“It was a living hell,” he said….
Why does the Karadzic verdict matter?
“It matters,” says Mr Pervanic, “because if he, as the leader, was not held to account, it would be a signal to future generations that you can start a war, cause the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and it’ll be fine. Nothing will happen to you.”
Author: Doctor Rasim Muratović. He directs of an institute for investigating crimes against humanity and international law in Sarajevo.
Muratović interprets Karadzic and his regime’s stance on the genocide charges.
[Po režima predsjednika Karadžića] “Svi su krivi: Muslimani, Hrvati, Albanci, ustaše, balije, UČK, Zelene beretke, mudžahedini, NATO, CIA, obavještajne službe Francuske, Njemačke, Vatikana, Teheran… Svi, samo oni ne.”
Translation: [According to the regime of president Karadjic] “Everyone is guilty: The Muslims, Croats, Albanians, Ustase [Croatian Fascists from WWII], Balije [derogatory term for Bosnian Muslims], Kosovo Liberation Army, Green Berets [term for Bosnian Muslim aggressors], Mujahadeen, NATO, CIA, AFP (the French news agency), Germany, the Vatican, Tehran. Everyone but us.”
Author (interviewee): Biljana Plavšić: a former president of Republic of Serbia, sentenced to 11 years in a Swedish prison at the Hague.
Excerpt: Komentarišući presudu po kojoj je Karadžić krv za genocid u Srebrenici, Plavšićeva je rekla: „Ako je genocid onda ubijaju ženu i decu, ali ja sam videla da ih spasavaju.“
Translation: “Commenting on the guilty verdict of genocide in Srebernica, Plavsic said ‘If it’s a genocide, then they kill women and children, but what I saw was that they were being rescued [by Serb Forces].’
Criminal in the Hague, but not in Republika Srpska
Henry Johnson – Foreign Policy
Four days before a U.N. war crime tribunal sentenced former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic to 40 years in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity, Serbian officials named a new university dormitory after him….
The move signaled the eagerness of the Republika Srpska, which is nominally part of Bosnia but manages a separate tax system and police force, to downplay Karadzic’s culpability in the bloodshed ahead of Thursday’s verdict….
Daniel Serwer, the former U.S. special envoy to the Bosnian Federation who helped to negotiate the peace talks that ended the conflict… warned that the move paled in seriousness next to the ways the Srpska government continues to be influenced by Karadzic’s brand of toxic nationalism.