UNMICT hears Former Bosnia Serb leader appeal for genocide conviction

UNMICT hears Former Bosnia Serb leader appeal for genocide conviction

The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) [official website] heard oral arguments [press release] on Monday and Tuesday in former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s [JURIST news archive] appeal of his 2016 conviction for crimes committed during the Bosnia conflict.

Karardic, in support of his appeal [materials], argues that prosecutors and judges committed numerous legal and procedural errors [appeal brief, PDF], such as prohibiting him from testifying in his own defense. During Monday’s hearing, Karadzic stated that the actions committed during the conflict were in self-defense and that evidence of this was ignored. A total of 50 grounds for appeal was raised by Karadzic. Karadzic seeks to have his conviction overturned, a new trial granted, or for his sentence to be reduced.

UN prosecutors have also brought an appeal in this case. They are seeking to convict Karadzic on a second genocide count and increase his sentence to a life term. Additionally, they argue the trial chamber erred by not concluding that Karadzic shared the intent to commit all crimes committed in connection for the Bosnian conflict.

The MICT is expected to hand down its verdict at the end of the year.

The Bosnia conflict took occured from 1992 to 1995. The Bosnian war left approximately 100,000 people dead and about 2.2 million homeless. In 2016, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] convicted Karadzic of multiple charges for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for the conflict, and sentenced [JURIST report] him to 40 years in prison. The court concluded that Karadzic’s involvement with and contributions to joint criminal enterprises showed that he was indeed “guilty of unlawful attacks on civilians, murder and terror.” The trial, which began in October 2009, lasted 499 days [materials, PDF] during which the court heard from 434 witnesses, with 11,469 exhibits and more than 330,000 pages of trial record, and over which the court deliberated for approximately one year.

The ICTY has convicted [JURIST report] numerous other officials for connection with the Bosnia conflict. In 2017, the ICTY reviewed an appeal[JURIST report] by Jadranko Prlic, Prime Minister of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, an unrecognized entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina, and five of his former senior military officials. The ICTY has since closed [JURIST report] in December 2017.