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Bosnian Serb Radovan Karadzic loses war crimes, genocide appeal as UN judges upheld life sentence

UN judges upped the sentence of Radovan Karadzic, once a political leader of Bosnian Serbs, to life in prison for his role in the 1990s Bosnian war. They decried the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of his crimes.

A United Nations court in The Hague on Wednesday dismissed an appeal by former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic against his convictions for crimes committed during the Bosnian war on Wednesday. The appeals chamber also increased his sentence from a 40-year prison term to life in prison, dw.com informs.

Presiding judge Vagn Joensen said that the previous verdict was too light given the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of Karadzic’s crimes.

Karadzic showed no reaction upon hearing the verdict. Survivors present in the courthouse were head applauding the decision.

Both the prosecutors and Karadzic’s defenders appealed the outcome of the first degree trial in 2016, when Karadzic was found guilty of committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1992-95 conflict.

During the war, Karadzic served as president of Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska while its armed forces tried to cleanse Bosniak Muslims from Serb-controlled areas.

Karadžić life sentence sends powerful message to the world

Responding to the decision by the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanisms for Criminal Tribunals to increase Radovan Karadžić’s sentence to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Amnesty International’s Europe Deputy Director, Massimo Moratti, said:

“Today’s decision, upholding Radovan Karadžić’s conviction on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, sends out a powerful message to the world. There can no longer be a shred of doubt that he is guilty of the most serious crimes under international law carried out on European soil since the Second World War.

“This verdict demonstrates that war criminals cannot hide from justice and that impunity will not be tolerated. It also offers a measure of justice for Karadžić’s victims, who have waited more than 24 years for this day.

“We should not forget, however, that almost two-and-a-half decades after the Bosnian War, thousands of cases of enforced disappearances are still unresolved, with a disturbing lack of political will still blocking access to justice, truth and reparation for victims.

“The responsibility is now on local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region to take action to finally close this dark chapter of Balkan history.”

 

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