Radovan Karadzic denies genocide charges at war crimes tribunal
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in the dock at The Hague on war crimes charges of genocide and ethnic cleansing, said Tuesday the charges against him are the result of lies and "tricks."
Radovan Karadzic -- the former Bosnian Serb leader cum new age guru on trial for war crimes at The Hague -- dismissed on Tuesday all evidence of attempted genocide and ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims during the war in the former Yugoslavia as fabrications.Skip to next paragraph
On the second day of opening statements in his trial on 11 counts of war crimes and genocide, Mr. Karadzic attempted to reframe and redefine massacres committed by Serb forces variously as simple acts of self defense or never having occurred. His version of events is at odds with almost every scholarly account of the war and the testimony of many fellow Serb defendants, dozens of whom have pled guilty over the course of 15 years of the United Nations war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia.
Karadzic said Bosnians in Sarajevo shelled their own city and shot their own civilians to create world sympathy and that they packed corpses of Bosnian Muslims into mass graves at Srebrenica as part of a conspiracy against Serbs. He characterized Western reporting of the war as a series of myths assisted by Bosnian “tricks,” and denied the existence of death camps that came to light in the first year of the war.
Karadzic, assisted by two private lawyers after four months of delay in one of the final major trials on the Bosnian war, adopted a defense strategy that some analysts say seeks to tap into current divides between the Islamic and Western worlds. He described the war as a “holy and just” attempt by Serbs to hold the line against a conspiracy by militant Muslims bent on recreating the Ottoman empire in the heart of Europe.
Sabra Kolenovic, a representative of the Mothers of Srebrenica, told Reuters that Karadzic “should be given the Nobel Prize for lying” in his opening statement.
On Monday Karadzic told Yugoslav tribunal judges that “the Serbs were the party that made concessions for the sake of preserving peace and they were never in favor of a war solution.” He said it was the conduct of Bosnian Muslims that “gave rise to our conduct."
The prosecution in the Karadzic trial, building on convictions and testimony from previous trials in the tribunal, is defining the war as a “criminal enterprise” led by Serb leaders in the former Yugoslavia, who between 1992 and 1998 attempted to create an ethnically pure “Greater Serbia” by forcing out non-Serbs from lands claimed in Belgrade to be historically Serb.