Karadzic conviction sparks protests in Belgrade

It was certainly convenient for Serbian ultra-rightist Vojislav Seselj that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) chose to convict his buddy Radovan Karadzic of genocide on March 24—the same day that Operation Allied Force, the NATO bombing campaign against Serbia, began in 1999. Seselj—leader of the Serbian Radical Party and a former paramilitary warlord, himself facing charges before The Hague-based tribunal—had already planned a rally in downtown Belgrade that day to commemorate the anniversary. Of course it became a rally in support of Karadzic, wartime leader of the Bosnian Serb Republic. "The criminal Hague, the false court of the Western powers, has condemned Karadzic to 40 years," Seselj railed to hundreds of gathered supporters. "They convicted him when he was innocent, only because he led the Serb people in Bosnia during a crucial moment." In another case of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism, he compared the European prisons holding Karadzic and other accused Serb war criminals to "Hitler's camps." To make it even better, many of his supporters bore the flag and regalia of the Chetniks—the World War II-era Serbian nationalist movement that collaborated with the Nazis after the German occupation of Yugoslavia in 1941. (The Independent, Radio B92)

Seselj, who is on "provisional release" from the tribunal while a judgment in his case is pending, told Belgrade's Radio B92 that he expects a verdict this week, and that he will be sentenced to 25 years. If he is right, expect a showdown between his followers and Serbian authorities over his extradition to The Hague.

Karadzic was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and sentenced by the ICTY to 40 years. The judgment said he had been proved "guilty of unlawful attacks on civilians, murder and terror." The trial lasted eight years, during which the court heard from 434 witnesses. The genocide charge concerned the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed. He was acquitted of a second genocide charge, over the campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages seized by Serb forces. Srebrenica survivors lamented that the judgment was for so long delayed. Meanwhile, Milorad Dodik, current president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, condemned the verdict, saying: "The West has apportioned blame to the Serbian people and that guilty cliche was imposed on all the decision-makers." (Jurist, BBC News, Japan Times, VOA)

The Bosnian Serb Republic has issued a formal apology for the Srebrenica massacre—while stopping short of calling it an act of "genocide."

  1. Journalist imprisoned by Hague war crimes tribunal

    French journalst Florence Hartmann, upon arriving at the The Hague to cover Karadzic's sentencing, was arrested by UN police outside and imprisoned—on charges of revealing to  the International Criminal Court that the Yugoslavia tribunal had suppressed documents pointing to Belgrade's complicity in the Srebrenica massacre. The accusation is also made in her her 2007 book, Paix et Châtiment (Peace and Punishment). She is apparently being held in harsh conditions, under close surveillance and 24-hour lighting. (The Guardian, The Independent, BBC News)

    Vojislav, please tell us again how the ICTY is "the false court of the Western powers." Maybe the "false" part is right…

  2. Former Serb soldier sentenced for war crimes

    The Belgrade Higher Court on Nov. 19 sentenced former Serb soldier Ranka Tomic to five years in prison for participating in the torture and execution of a Bosnian nurse in 1992. While in this verdict some judges requested a seven-year sentence, Tomic instead received five years. She can appeal at an undisclosed time. (Jurist)

  3. Bosnia arrests former general for war crimes

    The Prosecutor's Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered the arrest of former general Ramiz Dreković Wednesday for war crimes against civilians. Dreković, former commander of the 4th Corps of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is being held on suspicion of war crimes committed against civilians in violation of the Geneva Convention in 1995. Dreković is being investigated by a prosecutor for the Special Department for War Crimes for ordering the indiscriminate artillery shelling of the Serb population of Kalinovik, which resulted in the death of a 15-year-old child as well as the injury of several other children and adults. The shelling is also noted to have caused large-scale destruction of property and facilities. (Jurist)