International Justice sentenced former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic to life imprisonment for “the widespread and systematic cruelty” of his crimes during the Bosnian war (1992-95) ), hardening his initial sentence of 40 years in prison.
The white-haired accused listened impassively to the verdict, staring hard at the judges, to the applause of survivors and relatives of the victims who had come to attend the hearing.
Radovan Karadzic, 73, was sentenced at first instance in 2016 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague to 40 years in prison for genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes against humanity. war. The court found him responsible for persecution, murder, rape, inhuman treatment or forcible transfer, including the nearly four-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 people died.
The Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT), which took over from the ICTY after its closure in 2017, rejected Karadzic’s appeal on Wednesday condemning him “to life imprisonment”.
In the first instance, the judges “underestimated the extreme gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility in the worst crimes committed” during the conflict in Bosnia, said Judge Vagn Joensen, stressing “the extent” and “systematic cruelty” Of these crimes.
Radovan Karadzic was on trial for his responsibility in the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of the Srebrenica enclave, the worst in Europe since the Second World War, which international justice has called genocide. It is also implicated in the displacement of populations on ethnic bases in several other cities of the country.
More than 2,000 km from The Hague in eastern Bosnia, widows and mothers from Srebrenica followed the verdict, a few meters from the graves of their relatives: at the announcement of perpetuity, the widows of Srebrenica applauded and prayed.
“God thank you for that, because another verdict would have killed us”, reacts, palms turned to the sky, Bida Osmanovic. His 22-year-old son, Faruk, was among the 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys killed in July 1995 during the Srebrenica massacre, of which Radovan Karadzic was one of the artisans.
“My soul has regained serenity now,” “my pain is a little calmer,” says Nura Alispahic, a 74-year-old Sarajevienne who lost her husband and a 15-year-old son in Srebrenica.
“There is no difference between life imprisonment or a 40-year sentence, because he will be 103 years old in 40 years. So, that does not matter to him, “said Radovan Karadzic’s lawyer, Peter Robinson.