Radovan Karadzic faces final verdict in war crimes case

Karadzic was convicted in 2016 for the Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Serb forces.

    A Bosnian-Muslim woman prays at a memorial wall with the names of the Srebrenica victims [Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images]
    A Bosnian-Muslim woman prays at a memorial wall with the names of the Srebrenica victims [Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images]

    United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday will hand down a final verdict in the case of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, a key figure in the Balkan wars who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for genocide.

    The ruling will likely bring to a close one of the highest-profile trials stemming from the series of wars in the 1990s that saw the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia and death of at least 100,000 Bosnians.

    Karadzic, 73, was convicted in 2016 for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. He was also found guilty of leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing that drove Croats and Muslims out of Serb-claimed areas of Bosnia.

    On appeal, prosecutors are seeking a life sentence and a second genocide conviction for his alleged role in that policy of targeting non-Serbs across several Bosnian towns in the early years of the war.

    Karadzic, meanwhile, is appealing against his conviction and wants a retrial.

    The ruling, which is final and cannot be challenged on appeal, will have huge resonance in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia, where ethnic communities remain divided and Karadzic is still seen as a hero by many Bosnian Serbs.

    The judgment will be read out at 2pm local time (13:00 GMT) in The Hague at a UN court handling cases left over when the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia closed its doors in 2017.

    A delegation of the association of Mothers of Srebrenica will be in the Netherlands for the judgment.

    "If Karadzic does not get what he deserves, then this will mean that there is no justice in this world," Munira Subasic, president of the group who lost 22 close relatives in the killings, told AFP news agency ahead of the verdict.

    Genocide

    Karadzic is the highest-ranking person to face a reckoning before the UN tribunal.

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    A psychiatrist by vocation, Karadzic emerged as the Bosnian Serb political leader shortly before Yugoslavia began disintegrating in a series of wars in 1991. 

    In hiding for nearly a decade, Karadzic was arrested and handed over to the court in July 2008.

    Karadzic used a campaign of sniping and shelling, targeting the capital Sarajevo's civilians as a way of furthering his political goals during the 1992-95 war, a judge ruled.

    There were 8,372 victims in Srebrenica. Karadzic had long been accused of orchestrating the 1995 slaughter after Serb forces seized the UN's Srebrenica "safe area" in eastern Bosnia.

    SOURCE: News agencies