Radovan Karadzic, the Butcher of Bosnia, is a Bosnian Serb former politician and convicted war criminal who served as the President of Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War and sought the direct unification of that entity with Serbia.
Karadzic was the co-founder of the Serb Democratic Party in Bosnian and Herzegovina in 1989 and served as the first President of Republika Srpska from 1992 until 1996. The Serb Democratic Party aimed to unite the Republic’s Bosnian Serb community and join Croatian Serbs in leading them in remaining as part of Yugoslavia in the event of secession by those two republics from the federation.
After Bosnia was internationally recognized as independent, Karadzic was voted President of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb administration. He was also the commander of the army of the Bosnian Serb administration.
From 1996 until July 2008 he was a fugitive after being indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. This included genocide against Bosnian Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian War. During this time it was reported that he was living and working in Belgrade using an alias and practicing alternative medicine.
ICTY & Role in the War
Karadzic was arrested in 2008 in Belgrade and quickly brought before Belgrade’s War Crimes court before being extradited to the Netherlands. He is in custody of the ICTY in the United Nations Detention Unit of Scheveningen and stands accused of being one of the chief architects of the atrocities of the Bosnian War.
Karadzic was charged with eleven counts of war crimes. These charges included five counts of war crimes, including holding UN peacekeepers hostage, deporting civilians and murder.
The presiding ICTY judge, O-Gon Kwon, declared that Karadzic shared the common purpose of killing Bosnian Muslim males in Srebrenica and that he significantly contributed to it. Karadzic was in a position of power with the ability to intervene and to protect those being killed. However, he ordered Bosnian males to be transferred to another location to be killed. He was fully aware of the atrocities taking place.
On 24th March 2016 he was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 40 years imprisonment. On 22nd July 2016 he appealed the decision.
During the appeal in April 2018, Karadzic described the actions of the Bosnian Serbs as self-defence. He also outlined that facts and information had been misconstrued or neglected. The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, a court set up to deal with cases arising from international tribunals that have now closed, will take several months to reach their decision on the appeal.
As a political leader and commander-in-chief of the Serb forces in Bosnia, Karadzic was responsible for some of the worst acts of brutality during the war. This includes the siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8000 Bosnian men and boys. More than two decades later, Karadzic is still considered an hero in Serb controlled regions of Bosnia. The highly anticipated outcome of his verdict and appeal is unlikely to dispel the deep divisions in the country.