Karadzic closes his war crimes defence

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has insisted that United Nations prosecutors do not have “a shred of evidence” linking him to atrocities throughout the Bosnian war, and accused them of putting the entire Serb people on trial.

In an 874-page written brief summarising his defence, Karadzic said he should not be convicted by the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, but acknowledged that, as wartime leader of the breakaway Serb entity in Bosnia, he “bears moral responsibility for any crimes committed by citizens and forces of Republika Srpska”.

Karadzic is charged with crimes including genocide and persecution committed by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 war that left 100,000 dead. Prosecutors say he should be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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In court at The Hague, the 69-year-old said his 11-count indictment is based on the contention that he was a key member of a criminal plot to rid Serb-dominated areas of Bosnia of Muslims and Croats.

Without that theory, “the only thing that would remain would be my good deeds towards my people and the other two peoples”, he told judges who are expected to take months to reach verdicts.

In his written arguments, Karadzic said he was unaware at the time of the slaughter of Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica in 1995, the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War, and said evidence at his trial called into question the number of people killed.