Statement by the Prosecutor on the occasion of Karadžić Appeals Judgement
The Office of the Prosecutor is satisfied with the Appeals Chamber’s Judgment in the case Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadžić, which in the most important respects confirmed Karadžić’s convictions at trial on ten counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Appeals Chamber further granted the Prosecution’s appeal and sentenced Karadžić to life imprisonment.
Following the pronouncement of the judgment, Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said:
As confirmed by the Appeals Chamber today, Radovan Karadžić is guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He abused his political and military authority, together with other senior leaders, to unleash unimaginable campaigns of crimes, commit unspeakable atrocities and destroy a country.
Karadžić led massive ethnic cleansing campaigns, displacing millions, killing tens of thousands and subjecting so many ordinary, innocent people to rape, torture, sexual slavery and other maltreatment. He oversaw the more than three years long Siege of Sarajevo, spreading terror in the city to achieve his political goals. He made UN peacekeepers hostages and human shields. And in Srebrenica in July 1995, he joined with Ratko Mladić and others to expel 30,000 women, girls and elderly from their homes, and to kill thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys.
This United Nations tribunal has convicted him for his crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment, sending an important message that justice can prevail over evil. Today, the victims of his crimes finally saw him answer for what he did.
Opponents of the Tribunal will claim that this judgment is a verdict against the Serbian people. I reject that in the strongest terms. Karadžić’s guilt is his, not his community’s.
Others will say that Karadžić is a hero and was defending his people. This trial has proven the opposite. Karadžić will be remembered by history as a war criminal responsible for horrific human suffering.
Responsible officials should therefore promote acceptance of the facts established in this trial as the foundation for reconciliation. The denial of crimes and glorification of war criminals should not be tolerated.
There must be respect for and recognition of all victims, for what they suffered, and their courage in the fight for accountability. There can be no question that victims from all communities are still waiting for the justice they deserve. My Office is committed to supporting national courts, who now have the responsibility to continue the justice process.
We express our gratitude to the international community for supporting our work. We urge the United Nations and its Member States to continue supporting national prosecutors in the former Yugoslavia fighting for more justice for more victims.
Information for the Media
Today’s Appeals Judgement upheld Karadžić’s convictions on ten counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and confirmed his responsibility for four campaigns of crimes. The Appeals Chamber further granted the Prosecution’s appeal and sentenced Karadžić to life imprisonment for his crimes.
The Appeals Chamber confirmed Karadžić’s convictions for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed pursuant to an overarching criminal plan that spanned the period from October 1991 to November 1995, the so-called “Overarching JCE”. Karadžić played an “integral role” in the implementation of this plan. The plan aimed to permanently remove non-Serbs from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) through a campaign of crimes. Serb Forces forcibly displaced a vast number of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from their homes. They arrested and detained victims in prisons, camps and other facilities, often under inhumane living conditions, subjected them to torture, beatings, rape and other acts of sexual violence, and then transported victims out of the Municipalities. Serb Forces also killed many Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during and after the take-over of the municipalities, in mass executions or following attacks on non-Serb villages.
The Appeals Chamber upheld the conclusion that Karadžić intended the commission of those crimes and significantly contributed to the Overarching JCE. From the apex of political, governmental, and military structures he was able to use his power and influence to further the objective of the Overarching JCE. In particular, Karadžić was at the forefront of developing the ideology and policies, which led to the creation of a largely ethnically homogeneous Bosnian Serb state through the commission of crimes. Karadžić was also a central figure in the dissemination of propaganda against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, which identified them as the historic enemies of the Serbs and insisted that co-existence was impossible. Karadžić played on this historical narrative, and his rhetoric engendered fear and hatred of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats and had the effect of exacerbating ethnic divisions and tensions in BiH.
Siege of Sarajevo
Second, the Appeals Chamber confirmed Karadžić’s convictions for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed pursuant to a campaign of sniping and shelling in Sarajevo, the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo. This was the “Sarajevo JCE”. Citizens were exposed to sniping and shelling on an almost daily basis for three and a half years, which resulted in thousands of wounded and killed civilians. Children were shot in front of their house or while crossing a street with their mother. In addition, Bosnian Serb forces launched indiscriminate and highly destructive modified air bombs onto the city.
The Appeals Chamber upheld the conclusion that Karadžić intended the commission of those crimes and significantly contributed to the Sarajevo JCE, both as the highest political authority in RS and Supreme Commander of the VRS. Having control over the VRS throughout the conflict, he was directly involved in military matters in Sarajevo and issued orders. Karadžić used the campaign of sniping and shelling, causing terror among the civilian population in Sarajevo, as a means of exerting pressure on the Bosnian Muslim leaders and the international community in pursuit of his political goals.
The Appeals Chamber confirmed Karadzic’s conviction for the war crime of hostage-taking for his role in the May-June 1995 detention of UN peacekeepers and military observers in order to compel NATO to cease air strikes on Bosnian Serb military targets.
Finally, the Appeals Chamber confirmed Karadzic’s convictions for genocide, the crimes against humanity of persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer, and the war crime of murder, committed after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. Following the take-over of Srebrenica by the VRS in July 1995, ordered by Karadžić, approximately 30,000 Bosnian Muslim women, children, and elderly men were forcibly removed from the enclave to Bosnian Muslim-held territory. Karadžić had the intent to permanently and forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica. After the take-over, Bosnian Serb Forces detained the Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a number of locations in the area. The Appeals Chamber confirmed that, as Srebrenica fell, the long-term strategy aimed at removing the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica, began to be transformed into a concrete common plan to eliminate them. Beginning on 13 July 1995 and over the following days, the detained men were taken to nearby sites where they were executed. These killings were carried out pursuant to a systematic and highly organised plan. This demonstrated that Karadžić shared with Ratko Mladić and others the intent that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed, which amounts to the intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica as such.