Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, sentenced to life for war crimes and genocide, will serve the remainder of his sentence in a UK prison, the British government has said.
Karadzic, 75, is one of the chief architects of the slaughter and devastation of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. He was convicted by a United Nations court in 2016 of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes – for atrocities including the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb troops at Srebrenica.
He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, later increased to life by appeals judges at the court in The Hague, who argued the initial jail term had underestimated the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of his crimes.
He is currently in the court’s detention unit, but will be moved to an unspecified UK prison.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Wednesday Karadzic “was responsible for the massacre of men, women and children at the Srebrenica genocide and helped prosecute the siege of Sarajevo with its remorseless attacks on civilians”.
“We should take pride in the fact that, from UK support to secure his arrest, to the prison cell he now faces, Britain has supported the 30-year pursuit of justice for these heinous crimes,” Raab said.
The conflict in Bosnia was Europe’s bloodiest since World War II, leaving 100,000 dead and millions homeless.
Karadzic has always argued that the Bosnian Serb campaigns during the war, which included the bloody siege of the capital, Sarajevo, were aimed at defending Serbs.
After his indictment by the tribunal in The Hague, Karadzic remained at large for years before he was arrested in Serbia in 2008, disguised as a new-age therapist.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands convicted scores of people involved in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, with the inmates sent to several European countries to serve their sentences.
The tribunal has since been disbanded and replaced by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, which deals with cases and legal issues left over from UN courts that prosecuted crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.
The mechanism’s president, Judge Carmel Agius, issued a written order Wednesday instructing court officials to “take all necessary measures to facilitate Karadzic’s transfer to the United Kingdom as expeditiously as possible”.
Britain in 2013 took Liberian ex-warlord Charles Taylor after he lost his appeal against a 50-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the UN’s Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) in The Hague.
Taylor is serving his term at Frankland maximum security prison just outside Durham in northeast England after being convicted of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.