Karadzic Tells UN Court He Should Be Rewarded for Trying to Avoid War

Posted October 16th, 2012 at 10:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has told the United Nations war crimes tribunal that he should be rewarded for promoting peace rather than charged with genocide for his role in the Bosnian civil war of the 1990s.

Looking relaxed and sometimes smiling, Karadzic was speaking Tuesday as he opened his own defense at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Reading from a prepared text, he told the courtroom that he did “everything in human power to avoid war” and claimed to have “succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians.”

His comments drew jeers from Bosnian Muslim genocide survivors and victims' families in the public gallery. Prosecutors accuse the 67-year-old former political leader of masterminding Serb atrocities against Muslims in the 1992-to-1995 Bosnian conflict that killed about 100,000 people. He faces a life sentence if convicted.

In his remarks Tuesday, Karadzic described himself as a “mild” and “tolerant” man whose hairdresser before the war was a Muslim. He also accused Muslims of “orchestrating” two deadly shelling attacks on a Sarajevo market in 1994 and 1995 and said his first witness, Russian Colonel Andrey Demurenko, conducted an investigation that supports his claim.

A previous trial at the U.N. tribunal concluded that Bosnian Serb forces were responsible for shelling the Sarajevo market.

Karadzic spent 13 years on the run after being indicted by the tribunal until he was found and arrested in Serbia in 2008.

In a separate proceeding Tuesday, the tribunal opened a trial of Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic, who is charged with the killings and forced deportations of ethnic Croats after Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.