Karadzic: I'm no criminal – I was saving the innocent

Families of Srebrenica victims greet testimony with derision as 'Beast of Bosnia' begins defence

Radovan Karadzic launched his defence at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague yesterday with a display of the armour-plated impudence that served him so well while holding court for the international media during the siege of Sarajevo.

"I am a medical doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, group analyst and writer," he told the court, looking relaxed and professional and sporting a modified version of his famous quiff. "Instead of being accused of events in our civil war, I should have been rewarded. Here is why: because I did everything in human power to avoid the war." Mothers of victims of the Srebrenica massacre watching from the public gallery snorted in derision and disbelief, shouting out "He's lying! He's lying!" as his catalogue of exculpation continued.

"I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians," he declared. "The number of victims in our war was three to four times less than the numbers reported. I proclaimed numerous unilateral ceasefires and military containments. And I stopped our army many times when they were close to victory … I personally supervised the supply of humanitarian aid and the honouring of the international law of welfare."

Karadzic, known as the Beast of Bosnia, is one of the three Serb leaders to face trial in The Hague for their roles in the Bosnian civil war in which more than 100,000 people died. The Montenegrin psychiatrist and poet was President of the self-proclaimed Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) from 1991 to 1995.

He and Ratko Mladic, commander of the Bosnian Serb army, supported by their ally and patron Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia, waged war on the Bosnian Muslim and Croat communities in a sustained effort to ethnically cleanse Bosnia – newly declared a sovereign state – and make it part of a Greater Serbian state. Methods employed included the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in which 12,000 civilians were killed, and the massacre of the male Muslim population of the mining town of Srebrenica, in which nearly 8,000 men and boys were hunted down and slaughtered in cold blood in July 1995.

Karadzic faces 10 charges of genocide, other war crimes and crimes against humanity. In his defence yesterday, he claimed that the charges against him were invented by foreign governments and the media, while he himself was earnestly seeking peace. In particular he claimed that the shelling of a Sarajevo market in 1994 that killed dozens of civilians came not from Bosnian Serb forces but were a propaganda stunt by Muslims.

"I constantly sought and accepted four out of five peace agreements," he insisted. "I advocated, initiated and implemented the humanisation of the conflict by applying all measures of a humanitarian nature."

After the war – brought to an end by the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995 – Mladic and Karadzic went on the run. Karadzic was sensationally arrested on a bus in Belgrade in 2008. He had reinvented himself as a doctor of alternative medicine, working at a private clinic in the city under the name of Dr Dragan David Dabic. With a white beard to his chest and long hair gathered in a topknot like a Hindu ascetic, he had disappeared in plain sight.

After being brought to The Hague for trial in 2009, Karadzic initially refused to co-operate with the court, claiming he had not had enough time to prepare his defence. The presiding judge in the trial, O-Gon Kwon of South Korea, has given Karadzic 300 hours in which to defend himself, and he has declared his intention to call 300 witnesses. "Everybody who knows me knows I am not an autocrat, I am not aggressive," he told the court yesterday. "On the contrary I am a mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others."

In the dock: The charges

Judges acquitted Radovan Karadzic of one of the two counts of genocide in June, but 10 other war crimes and genocide charges stand. These include taking part in another act of genocide – the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, in which more than 8,000 were executed.

He also faces charges of crimes against humanity, including ordering and abetting the persecution of Bosnian Muslims and/or Croats. A number of other charges are classed as violations of the customs of war, and include involvement in the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, during which 10,000 people died. Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines