Radovan Karadzic sentenced to life in prison
© WikiMedia (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)

Radovan Karadzic sentenced to life in prison

The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ appeals chamber on Wednesday confirmed the conviction of former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic for Bosnian war crimes, increasing his sentence to life in prison.

After the first-instance judgment rendered in March 2016, which sentenced Karadzic to 40 years of prison, both the defense and the prosecution appealed. The Trial Chamber found Karadzic individually criminally responsible through his participation in joint criminal enterprises to:

  1. permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory in municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period of 1991-1995;
  2. spread terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo through a campaign of sniping and shelling;
  3. eliminate the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995; and
  4. take United Nations personnel hostage.

In his appeal, Karadzic asked to be acquitted of all charges, stating that there was no hard evidence to support the prosecution’s allegations of his responsibility. On the other hand, the prosecution maintained that 40-year sentence was not enough for the Karadzic’s severe acts against Bosniaks in the 1990s. In addition, it found unsatisfactory the fact that the Tribunal convicted Karadzic only for 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica, discharging the claims of this crime being committed also in sever other Bosnian provinces in 1992.

In its final judgment, the five-judge panel decided 3-2 to confirm Karadzic’s initial conviction on charge of genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity, while increasing the sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment.

Judge Vagn Prusse Joensen said that previous sentence was inadequate, considering “an unprecedented scale and cruelty” of Mr. Karadzic’s crimes. Still, Joensen added that “the prosecutors have not proved that a mistake was made when it was determined that Karadzic was not guilty of genocide in 1992.”

Wednesday’s verdict is final and not subject to appeal. This decision puts an end to a case whose initial indictment was confirmed on 25 of July 1995.