Karadzic denies criminal role in Balkans war

Ex-Bosnian Serb leader admits 'moral responsibility' but rejects criminal charges in genocide that killed 8,000 Muslims.

    Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has denied responsibility for the death of 100,000 people during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, claiming UN prosecutors have no "shred of evidence" against him.

    Karadzic, a leading political figure during the war, is facing charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide for atrocities committed as his ethnic army tried to rid Bosnia of Croats and Muslims, killing 8,000 people in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

    Defending himself after refusing the services of a lawyer, Karadzic rejected on Wednesday the charges in closing remarks at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as the long-running trial comes to an end. A verdict is expected sometime in mid-2015.

    Prosecutors in The Hague are seeking the maximum penalty of life imprisonment against Karadzic, 69, who only admitted "moral responsibility"

    Although he has taken "moral responsibility" for the atrocities committed by Bosnian Serbs during the Balkans' 1992-95 war, Karadzic denies the criminal charges.

    "Since the distinguished prosecution lawyer, Mr Tieger, has no evidence, he chose to tarnish my personality, he called me a liar and mobster," he said on Wednesday, blaming the recklessness of other politicians for the worst bloodshed in Europe since World War Two.

    "He probably wouldn't have if he'd had a single valid piece of hard evidence against Radovan Karadzic," Karadzic said.

    'Driving force'

    Summing up their arguments on Tuesday, war crimes prosecutors said Bosnian Serb forces deliberately killed civilians to spread terror during the war and that Karadzic was the "driving force" behind the Bosnian genocide.

    Karadzic faces 11 charges, including genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed.

    He is also accused of being behind the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which thousands of civilians died. 

    "After hundreds of witnesses, 80,000 pages of transcripts, and 10,000 exhibits, the policy of ethnic cleansing is finally exposed. And Karadzic was its driving force," Tieger said. 

    Karadzic said the "execution of prisoners from Srebrenica was a horrible act" but not genocide since there was no evidence the massacre had been intended to destroy the Bosnian Muslims. 

    He appealed to UN judges for leniency and said he had been promised immunity in exchange for stepping down as head of the Bosnian Serb republic in 1996.

    Straight after the war, Karadzic fled the country but was finally arrested in neighbouring Serbia in 2008, where he had been living in disguise as faith healer for years.

    He was transferred to the tribunal and went on trial in 2009.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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