The Hague, Netherlands – Former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, has been found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by a United Nations tribunal on Thursday.

Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in lethal ethnic cleansing operations, the siege and shelling of Sarajevo and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, as reported by the New York Times.

It was determined that Karadzic was the only person in the Bosnian Serb leadership with the power to halt the genocide, but instead of ending it he gave an order for prisoners to be transported from one location to another to be killed, the presiding Judge, O-Gon Kwon, said.

Radovan Karadzic (right) and his general Ratko Mladic are seen on Mountain Vlasic in April 1995. Photo: Reuters file

While pronouncing the verdict, Judge O-Gon Kwon added that Karadzic and his military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, intended “that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed.”

The 70-year-old former leader was also found guilty of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer and murder in connection with a campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces during the country’s civil war that left about 100,000 deaths.

Planning to appeal, Karadzic’s chief legal adviser, Peter Robinson, said his client was disappointed and astonished by his conviction and the judge’s reasoning. Disappointed as well were the relatives of the victims that said he got the verdict of an ordinary soldier when he should have had the life sentence.

“A true friend to Muslims”

Karadzic defended himself and was portrayed by his arguments as a man of peace who was driven solely by his desire to protect Serbs. He also described himself as a “true friend to Muslims” who had tried to make them feel safe, despite his fiery speeches leading up to the war.

During his closing statement, Karadzic said he took moral responsibility for crimes committed by Bosnian Serb citizens and forces but denied his involvement in the killings by saying he was not aware a massacre would take place at Srebrenica.

About 230 witnesses testified claiming Karadzic’s innocence. He basically based his defense on the premise that the Bosnian war broke out because Serbs had no choice but to defend themselves against a Bosnian Muslim separatist regime that intended to create an Islamic State.

The prosecutors in the other hand, presented as evidence of his role in the conflict electronic intercepts, written orders, video recording and a long line of witnesses that included fighters, politicians, peacekeepers, survivors of prison camps and even rape victims.

Source: The New York Times