MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti) – Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has denied charges that he committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-1995 Bosnia War. His lawyer sought an acquittal on Thursday during the closing arguments of the last phase of the five-year-long International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, the AFP reported on Thursday. Many of the accusations are related to the July 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in the town of Srebrenica.
"There is not a single piece of evidence that Dr. Karadzic planned or ordered the execution of prisoners (at Srebrenica), or that he knew about it," AFP quotes Karadzic’s legal advisor Peter Robinson as saying.
"In fact, [the events] were concealed from him and therefore he is not guilty of genocide," Robinson added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Karadzic denied any systematic “ethnic cleansing” of the territory under his control during the Bosnian conflict.
“It is the Serb people who stand accused,” he said, as quoted by The Guardian. “There has never been a situation when so many decent, innocent people, mostly Serbs, are imprisoned outside their country, while the murderers of Serbs go free.”
“I know of no one in the Serb leadership who wanted to harm Muslims or Croats.”
Stevan Karganovich, President of the Srebrenica Historical Project, which aims to investigate the violence that occurred between the communities during the conflict, told Radio VR that Karadzic is convinced of his innocence in the criminal sense, but as a decent human being, he takes moral responsibility for everything that happened on his watch.
“My question is: don’t you wish that some unindicted hegemonic world leaders of today have the courage to say as much after destroying half a dozen countries and leaving a trail of death and destruction in their wake?” Karganovich asked.
“Political necessity requires that Dr. Karadzic be sentenced to life in prison to confirm the real indictment which is not of him but of the Republic of Srpska and the Serbian people generally,” he added. “Recent developments in international relations make such a conviction necessary for an additional reason, not present when the trial began: As a perverse message to the ‘vilified leadership’ of the Russian Federation.’”
Karganovich also questioned the legitimacy of the tribunal itself.
“There is no provision for such a tribunal in the UN Charter and its formation in 1993 took place under highly questionable circumstances,” he said.
“Its financing is entirely from the Western countries that are hostile to one of the parties in the Bosnian conflict. The proceedings, the indictments and the convictions, in their disproportionality, clearly demonstrate that it is a partial partisan political tribunal. It should not exist.”
However, Karganovich added, it does not mean that some other mechanism that is legal and conforms with international law should not be set up for the war crimes.
Karadzic was President of the Republica Srpska in 1992-1996 and pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing against the non-Serb residents of Bosnia, with the aim to establish an "ethnically pure" Serbian state, as reported by the News Tribune. He is being accused of 11 crimes, including the Srebrenica massacre, numerous ethnic cleansings, and the persecution of the non-Serb population as well as crimes against humanity.
The final verdict is expected sometime in the middle of 2015.