“Good afternoon”, the 70-year-old Karadzic, dressed in a dark blue suit with light blue striped tie, said after having entered the courtroom in The Hague. Listening to the words of the presiding judge O-Gon Kwon, who took almost two hours to read out his judgment, Karadzic sometimes raised his eyebrows, gave a look of disbelief or shook his head.
The former Bosnian Serb president was acquitted of the first count of genocide in several Bosnian municipalities, which was not a surprise, because in the ICTY no suspect has been convicted for this. “There was not sufficient evidence for genocide without reasonable doubt in the municipalities,” the judge stated.
Karadzic was found guilty for the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995, in which over 7,000 Muslim men were killed by Bosnian Serb forces. “As the President of the Republika Srpska and supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb army VRS, the accused was the sole person within the Republika Srpska with the power to intervene to prevent the Bosnian Muslim males from being killed,” the judge said.
The trial chamber concluded that Karadzic shared with commander Ratko Mladic 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.
In addition Karadzic was found guilty of five counts of crimes against humanity (persecutions, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts) and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war (murder, terror, unlawful attacks on civilians, taking of hostages).
As a result the former supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces and president of the Republika Srpska was held responsible for the deaths of thousands, including the lost lives during the Siege of Sarajevo between April 1992 and November 1995.
On judgment day in The Hague over 150 relatives of victims, more than 200 journalists, over 50 diplomats and state representatives and more than 100 academics, researchers and civil society representatives gathered at the Tribunal. The relatives drew the intention with several banners to remember the genocide of Srebrenica.
“I am not satisfied”, survivor Fikret Alic, whose picture of him and his emaciated body behind barbed wire shocked the world in 1992, reacted outside the court to, among others, Xinhua. “It seems like he was awarded for what he has done.”
Kada Hotic, vice-president of the victims organization “Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves", was also disappointed. “He got a verdict like a normal soldier,” she said to among others, Xinhua. “I am really hurt by this. I am a mother, lost my only son in Srebrenica, and all my male relatives were killed as well.”
The prosecutor had demanded life in prison for Karadzic, but stated to welcome the judgment. “Justice has been done,” chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said. “The truth established by this judgment will stand against continuing attempts at denying the suffering of thousands and the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia.”
Karadzic himself had hoped for total acquittal and his legal adviser Peter Robinson announced to appeal the verdict. “President Karadzic was disappointed and astonished by the verdict,” Robinson said, to among others, Xinhua in front of the ICTY building. “According to him they ignored evidence in his favor.”
Karadzic was arrested in July 2008 and his trial started in October 2009. With the appeal phase coming up the trial will probably last another three years for the final outcome.