Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Prosecutors before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague are expected to present closing arguments in the years long trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić for eleven counts of war crimes, including genocide charges for his involvement in the massacres of Bosnian Muslims and Ethnic Croats during his reign as the President of the Republika Srpska in the Bosnian war that was waged in the aftermath of the breakup of Yugoslavia.
Karadžić was a fugitive from justice from 1996 until his arrest in Belgrade in 2008 where shortly thereafter he was extradited to The Netherlands pending charges before the ICTY. He was preceded in trial by Slobodan Milošević, the former President of Serbia but who died prior to the conclusion of his trial. General Ratko Mladić, a Bosnian Serb military official, is also standing before the ICTY for events during the Srebrenica Massacre.
The prosecution expects that if most of the charges result in convictions, Karadžić likely will remain imprisoned for life.
Karadžić is accused of directing atrocities committed by the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992 to 1995 war that claimed one hundred thousand lives. A specific detail is alleged that Karadžić directed the massacre of several thousand Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.
Mr. Karadžić Maintains he is innocent of these charges and is representing himself in the trial.
Deutsche Welle reports, “Under his command and oversight, Karadzic’s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats,” the prosecutors wrote in their “final trial brief.” The initial paper was submitted to the court in August, with a redacted version published on Friday.
“Should the Chamber find Karadzic responsible for a substantial portion of the crimes … life imprisonment is the only appropriate sentence,” they said. The prosecutors also dismissed most of Karadzic’s defense witnesses as “demonstrably lacking in credibility,” calling much of their testimony “confused, contradictory, vague, evasive and often plainly absurd.”
Many individuals removed from the area of the former Yugoslavia have mostly a fading memory of the atrocities committed during the conflict during the 1990’s. In fact, the younger generations residing there have fortunately been spared the terrors their parents faced. Yet the past will be as cemented in the psyches of those who managed to survive. Some areas have many scars upon buildings, bridges and monuments to reinforce, remind, or educate those who travel by.
The trials of these actors, though long and often painful for those in witness, is certainly worth whatever length of time it requires. If anything it affords the world the opportunity to review events that happened. Events that might otherwise be buried and forgotten; as were far too many victims and their families.
By Darren Smith
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