The former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic proclaimed his innocent before the U.N. judges last Monday, claiming that the accusations against him of genocide and war crimes are groundless and possibly part of a Muslim conspiracy.
“The prosecution has made a huge effort to try to make some kind of an indictment out of nothing,” Karadzic told the Yugoslav tribunal.
Karadzic is charged with “ethnic cleaning,” a misleading term since, though his enemies were non-Croats, the motivation seems to have been religiously motivated by Christian Serbs against Bosnian Muslims.
During their war for independence from 1992 to 1995, Bosnia’s “constituent people,” as they call them, include Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats, and Muslim Bosniaks, which was popularized in the media not as a religiously fueled battle, as it was, but as ethnic tensions characteristic of the area, which it was not. Furthermore, it was painted as if the groups were all equally instigators, when in fact the Serbs seem to be the instigators and the perpetuators of war crimes.
Karadzic’s involvement in war crimes and genocide is now being tried in the Yugoslavic court. He was caught in 2008 after 13 years of hiding. The charges against him center on the murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1995 and the 44-month siege and shelling of capital Sarajevo, which cost 12,000 lives.
Karadzic told prosecution that it “hasn’t proven the number of victims which is being used in public,” and characterized the tone of the court and its statistics as “Muslim propaganda,” to which the “prosecution succumbed,” as a “part of [a] game which is bringing misery to people there and lays down for future enmities.”
The war has involved over 97,207 killed and 1.8 million displaced. It was also characterized by the organized and brutal rape of Muslim women by Serbian soldiers and policeman.
“There are none of my fingerprints on any crimes,” Karadzic told the tribunal. “Where I was involved…it was for humanitarian reasons and to ease the suffering of civilians, regardless of nationality.
“The prosecution hasn’t proven my responsibility for the events in Srebrenica, nor that it was genocide,” Karadzic told the court. “It’s up to the prosecution to prove who did the killings and for what motives.”
Such words anticipate his defense, which will be presented before the court this October. His claim will be that if any war crimes were committed, there were done in his ignorance and against his will.
“How can the president of the republic, who has his hands full all day every day, possibly know something that was not known to the people in the chain of command in the very areas the events occurred?” he asked.
Having plead not guilty to all the charges against him, he will nevertheless face life in prison if convicted. His defense makes their response this October.