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Saturday, March 26, 2016, 11:37

Karadzic convicted of genocide

By Associated Press

Karadzic convicted of genocide

Radovan Karadzic appears in court at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Netherlands in this July 11, 2013 file photo. (Photo/Agencies)

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — A UN war crimes court convicted former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of genocide and nine other charges on Thursday for orchestrating a campaign of terror that left 100,000 people dead during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.

Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in Serb atrocities that included the Srebrenica massacre in which 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in Europe's worst mass murder since the Holocaust, and for directing the nearly four-year siege of Sarajevo.

In pronouncing the verdict, presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic and his military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, intended "that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed."

Karadzic, the judge said, was the only person in the Bosnian Serb leadership with the power to halt the genocide, but instead gave an order for prisoners to be transported from one location to another to be killed. In the carefully planned 1995 operation, Serb forces moved Muslim men and boys to sites around the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia and gunned them down before dumping their bodies into mass graves.

Upon hearing the sentence, the 70-year-old Karadzic slumped slightly in his chair, but otherwise showed little emotion. He plans to appeal the convictions.

Karadzic had insisted he was innocent and claimed throughout the six-year court proceedings that his wartime actions were intended to protect the Serbs.

The former leader, who was arrested in Serbia in 2008 after more than a decade in hiding, is the highest Bosnian Serb official to be sentenced by the Netherlands-based court.

Although 20 years in coming, the trial is hugely significant for the development of international law. Karadzic's conviction will likely strengthen international jurisprudence on the criminal responsibility of political leaders for atrocities committed by forces under their control.

Karadzic had faced a total of 11 charges and a maximum life sentence. However, the court acquitted him of a second genocide charge, for a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but the court's chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, said 40 years amounted to the same thing for the aging Karadzic.

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