Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity that include persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer, taking UN peacekeepers hostages, deporting civilians and murder by the UN International Criminal Court.
He has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, taking into account the fact that he has been detained since 2008. His crimes include what has been called the worst atrocity on the continent since World War II, the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, a town which had been declared a safe haven by the United Nations, in 1995.
Although Karadžić himself has repeatedly denied being directly responsible for or even initially aware of the killings, the court determined he was “instrumental” in the perpetration of the violence in and 44-month siege of Srebrenica. It is estimated the siege resulted in the death of nearly 12,000 civilians.
Karadžić acted as his own defense attorney in the trial, bringing in hundreds of witnesses to attest to his innocence. Karadžić maintained, even after the verdict was handed down, that he did not order the atrocities that were committed and was motivated by nothing more than the necessity to protect the Serbs from an aggressive separatist regime. The prosecution asserted that it was Karadžić’s explicit intention to purge Bosnia of all non-Serbs.
The trial of Karadžić lasted a total of 491 days spread out over the course of four years. The judges then deliberated for approximately one year. Karadžić is the highest ranking political figure to be tried for atrocities committed during the Bosnian war. Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in prison in 2006.