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Bringing justice to victims of international crimes

Radovan Karadzic

On trial
Sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity on 24 March 2016

Radovan Karadzic was born on 19 June 1945 in the municipality of Savnik, in the Republic of Montenegro in the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). He is one of the founding members of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS). He was the President of the SDS from 12 July 1990 to 19 July 1996 and as such, was also President of the party’s Central Committee. On 27 March 1992, he became President of the National Security Council of the Serb Republic of Bosnia (“Republika Srpska”) Radovan Karadzic subsequently became one of the three member presidency of the Serb Republic on 12 May 1992 and finally sole President of the Serb Republic on 19 July 1996. In this position he was also Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

As early as July 1991, the Bosnian Serb leaders, and in particular, Radovan Karadzic, sought to take control of those regions in Bosnia-Herzegovina which had been declared as integral parts of the Serb Republic. They took great pains to create inhuman living conditions for the non-Serb population engulfing them in terror in order to push them into leaving these areas. Those who refused were either forced to leave or were murdered. Up until the end of the month of November 1995 such persecutions and expulsions were carried out with increasing frequency.

The Muslim population sought refuge mainly in those rural areas of Bosnia hitherto spared by the Bosnian Serb forces, notably in Srebrenica. In order to afford it protection, the UN Security Council on16 April 1993, adopted Resolution 819 whereby it required that all the parties to the conflict treat Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde and Tuzla as “security zones” which should not be the target of any armed attack or other kind of hostile act.

However, around 6 July 1995, the Bosnian Serb forces on orders from Radovan Karadzic, bombarded Srebrenica and attacked the UN observation posts situated in the “security zone”. On 11 July they entered the town. Those Muslims present in the enclave - several thousands of men women and children - then took refuge in the United Nations compound at Potocari inside the “security zone”. The following day the Bosnian Serb forces separated the men from the women and children and put them into detention centres. Between 11 and 18 July 1995 the men were executed in massive numbers.

On the arrival of the Serbian forces in the enclave, another group of around 15’000 Muslims, mainly men, decided to flee in order to get to Tuzla through the woods. Thousands of them were captured by the Serb forces and summarily executed. The remaining Muslim population was expelled by force from Srebrenica en masse, leaving it totally devoid of any Muslim presence.

The SDS and governmental authorities opened up camps and detention centres for non-Serbs, guarded by members of the army and the police under the high command of the Serb authorities and notably that of Radovan Karadzic. Muslims and Bosnian Croats were held there under inhuman conditions in an atmosphere of constant terror created by widespread physical, moral and sexual violence .Thousands of prisoners died as a result of these barbaric acts or were summarily executed.

Between 1 April 1992 and 30 November 1995, the Bosnian Serb forces, acting under the direction and command of Radovan Karadzic, also led an attack against Sarajevo from vantage points in the town and the surrounding area. The town was put under blockade and subjected to bombardments and weapons fire causing thousands of civilian victims amongst which were children and old people. This siege lasted for 44 months and established a climate of terror amongst the inhabitants of the town, whose everyday existence became a struggle to survive. Without gas, electricity or running water, the inhabitants were compelled to venture outside at great risk to their lives to stock up on necessities.

Finally, between 26 May and 2 June 1995, in retaliation against air strikes by NATO, the Bosnian Serb forces, under the direction and command of Radovan Karadzic, held in detention more than 200 military observers and members of the UN peacekeeping forces, mainly in Pale and in Sarajevo. They were held hostage on military or other strategic sites to protect the sites from renewed air strikes by NATO. Some of the hostages were subject to maltreatment and threats during their captivity.

After a long period on the run, Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade on 21 July 2008 and transferred to the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) on 30 July 2008.

Trial Watch would like to remind its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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War crimes
Crimes against humanity
Forbidden methods or means or warfare

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