Arrested Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will appear before U.N. judges next week in the last appeal round of one of the highest profile cases of the 1990s Balkan Wars. Mr. Karadzic currently serves a 40-year imprisonment. He is convicted of charges for perpetrating crimes against humanity in July 1995 at the renowned Srebrenica massacre.
The Srebrenica massacre resulted in the casualty of approximately 8.000 Muslim people by Bosnian Serb militias led by Radovan Kardadzic. The convicted former militia leader was also convicted of charges for ethnic cleansing of Bosniak Croats and Muslims who were driven out of the Serbian areas in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The appeal prosecutors of the International Criminal Court at The Hague opted out for upgrading the 40-year imprisonment to life sentence. Further, prosecutors also wished the judges to press charges for ethnic cleansing action against Bosniak Croats and Muslims before the climax of the 1995 intra-ethnic cleavages. Mr. Karadzic’s legal team has appealed against both charges.
Judges have already partially refuted the prosecutors’ genocide charges in the non-Srebrenica context, arguing that Mr. Karadzic drove non-Serb populations out of Serb enclaves than destroying them. For their part, defence lawyers argue that prosecutors have unfairly defamed Mr. Karadzic with unsubstantiated charges. For this reason, they argue, a repeat of the so-called mega-trial must take place. The final verdict on the appeal stage will be given later this week by judges at The Hague Court.
The ruling could not be appealed for once again and will be of great symbolic importance for stakeholders involved in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Ethnic communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina still remain divided on a number of principles and operational issues, foremostly the legal accommodation of renowned cases as that of Mr. Karadzic. Whereas Croat and Muslim Bosniak communities consider Mr. Karadzic the personification of evil on earth, Bosnian Serbs still hail him as a national hero.