ICTY decision on Karadzic sparks division in BiH

07/07/2012

The tribunal in The Hague acquitted Karadzic of one count of genocide.

By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 07/07/12

photo

Radovan Karadzic talks to his defence team at The Hague tribunal. [Reuters]

The Hague tribunal last week cleared former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic of one out of two counts of genocide in seven municipalities, but that decision caused a fiery split in the public about whether the killings of Bosniak Muslims as well as Croats beyond Srebrenica in the 1992-95 war should be considered genocide.

The tribunal said the prosecutors brought sufficient evidence to support ten charges -- including the charge of genocide in Srebrenica – and refused to dismiss these charges.

The ICTY also rejected Karadzic's request to be set free mid-trial.

Many in Republika Srpska celebrated the court's decision to clear him of one count.

"The decision is a step forward toward reality and erases all the myths about genocide which have been retold in BiH over the past 20 years. This is good because the general hysteria about the Serbs as a genocidal nation will at least partly be stopped," Rajko Vasic, general secretary of the ruling Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), told SETimes.

But Bosniak officials and citizens and some Bosnian Croats called the decision a disgrace.

"We already prepared an appeal to be handed to the tribunal. This court is most responsible for the truth about what happened in BiH, and the truth is genocide did happen," Bakira Hasencic, president of the Association of Victims of the War in BiH, told SETimes.

The indictment was issued in May 2000, replacing an initial one from July 1995, in which Karadzic is charged with numerous war crimes against non-Serbs, including extermination, murder, willful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, terrorising and taking of hostages.

"Genocide can not be any war crime which was committed. People use this term too often and we know who is [mis]using it the most," Lirik said, referring to the Bosniaks.

"This is outrageous, but what else can you expect from treacherous Europe? Let us learn once and for all that we should take justice into our own hands. Hundreds of civilians killed, camps; that is not a genocide? Unarmed Bosnians were killing themselves during the war!? We were so naive ... let us never again be naive to believe the fascists!" Zlatan Kovacevic said.

"Two thousand civilians in Zvornik and surrounding areas, Bosniaks, were brutally killed within several days under the leadership of this monster during the [ethnic] cleansing. All others that were different and were not Serbs, were expelled, deported, closed in camps… We are still searching for mass graves around Zvornik,"Mesa Pargan said.

Pargan explained many of his relatives, unarmed civilians, were killed in one day after being tortured. "Now some try to prove all sides were the same to lessen the dimensions of the crime. What is killing 2,000 people, Bosniaks, but an attempt at genocide," he said.

Pargan warned if genocide is not condemned as such, it is likely to be repeated. "If it is not forbidden, if it is not genocide, then it is allowed."

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"Through this move, the tribunal shows that the crime pays … so many thousands of people were killed, what else needs to happen so that the judges of The Hague tribunal ruled that it was genocide?" Haznadar asked.

Some, however, tried to rise above the emotional responses.

"I recommend that Serbs and Muslims read a bit of literature before writing. Then you guys will realise you have all been sheep to shear, and an object of political ambition ... You got your ethnically pure towns and thousands of dead. They got billions of euros in their pockets," Dejan Markovic said.

The trial will continue with the evidentiary procedure of Karadzic's defence team in mid-October.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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