Sarajevo: The United Nations’ tribunal for atrocities committed during the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia confirmed convictions of genocide and war crimes against Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and extended his initial sentence to life in prison.
Vagn Joensen, the presiding judge of the Appeals Chamber in The Hague, Netherlands, said an earlier prison term of 40 years handed down in 2016 “underestimates the extraordinary gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility and his integral participation” in the crimes and was “unreasonable and plainly unjust.” In that ruling, Karadzic was found guilty of genocide and nine other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The court upheld convictions that included his role in the death of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica, Europe’s worst mass murder since the Holocaust. He was also convicted for the forced deportation of people, taking hostages and for staging the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
“The 40-year sentence inadequately reflects the extraordinary gravity of Karadzic’s crimes,” the court said in a summary of the judgement. It said it came to its conclusion after comparing the terms to those of Bosnian Serbs who served under Karadzic.
Karadzic, one of the tribunal’s most high-profile targets along with his military commander Ratko Mladic and the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, appealed the initial verdict, along with prosecutors. He sought to overturn it, while the prosecutors demanded a life sentence and guilty verdict on more counts for which he was acquitted.
The bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia — Europe’s most violent conflict since the Second World War — killed more than 100,000 people in Bosnia, the former federation’s most ethnically diverse state. Karadzic, 73, led ethnic Serbs who took up arms in 1992 when the republic’s two other ethnic groups, the Muslims and Croats, moved to secede from Yugoslavia.