[JURIST] Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [ICTY case summary, PDF; JURIST news archive] began his defense Tuesday in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] by denying all charges against him. Karadzic opened by describing himself [Guardian report] as, a “medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, group analyst and writer.” He then testified that not only had he committed no war crimes, but he should be rewarded [BBC report] for the efforts he made to finding a peaceful resolution in the Yugoslav conflict.
Instead of being accused for the events in our civil war, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I’ve done, namely that I did everything in human power to avoid the war; that I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians that the number of victims in our war was three to four times less than the numbers reported in the public; that I proclaimed numerous unilateral ceasefires and military containment and I stopped our army, many times, when they were close to victory; that I constantly sought peace and accepted four out of five peace agreements; that I advocated and initiated and implemented the humanization of the conflict by applying all measures of humanitarian action; that, in addition to my many presidential duties, I personally supervised the supply of humanitarian aid, ceasefires, and the honoring of the international law of warfare. And thus, I was the address for many successes of humanitarian actions. Also, I proclaimed and implemented many acts of mercy.
Later in his opening argument, Karadzic accused Bosnian Muslims of staging some of the attacks on Sarajevo, suggesting that they had used mannequins to trick the international community into believing there were Bosnian causalities. Karadzic called one witness on Tuesday, Colonel Andrei Demurenko, who has testified in other ICTY hearings that Bosnia was the aggressor in the conflict and that the Serbian forces have been smeared by Western media. Demurenko was the Russian Chief of Staff for the UN peacekeeping mission. Karadzic will have 300 hours [JURIST report] to present his case. The defense is expected to run two years.
Karadzic has been accused of participating in the planning of the 1995 Srebrenica Massacre [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], which resulted in the death of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys. In August the ICTY denied Karadzic’s request for a new trial after he argued that the prosecution had failed to disclose [JURIST reports] crucial information until after trial. The court reasoned that the delay in disclosing evidence has not infringed on Karadzic’s right to a fair trial, although the court noted that “the number of disclosure violations in this case has reflected badly on the Prosecution.” In early June the judges from the ICTY went on a five-day visit [JURIST report] to locations relevant to the indictment of Karadzic. They visited Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Srebrenica and surrounding areas. This visit came just months after the ICTY sentenced [JURIST report] former president of the municipality of Sokolac, BiH, Milan Tupajic to two months in prison for refusing to testify against Karadzic. In February former Commander of the Bosnian Serb Army Ratko Mladic [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] accused [JURIST report] the ICTY of being biased.