On 21 July 2008 former Bosnian Serb politician Radovan Karadžić was arrested in Belgrade for his role in the Genocide in Bosnia, after 12 years as a fugitive from justice. In March 2016, Karadžić was found guilty of crimes including responsibility for the deliberate removal of populations, the siege of Sarajevo, hostage-taking of UN peacekeepers, and the genocide in Srebrenica in which 8,000 unarmed Bosniak Muslims were slaughtered.
When Bosnia declared its independence from Serbia in 1992, Karadžić and his Serbian Democratic Party refused to recognise the new state and instead declared the breakaway Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic), part of a Greater Serbia. With support from Slobodan Milošević, Karadžić organised Serbs within Bosnia to attack the ethnic Bosnian and Croat populations. What followed was a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Serb Bosnians.
Across the country, rape, torture and murder were used as weapons to destroy the non-Serb populations. As President of the Republika Srpska, Karadžić oversaw the implementation of these barbaric crimes. In Srebrenica, his aim to ‘terrorise and demoralise the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat population’ concluded with the systematic murder of over 8,000 males from age 13 upwards. Karadžić’s dismissal of this massacre as ‘false myths’ at his trial was denounced by relatives of those who were murdered at Srebrenica.
At the time of his capture, 13 years after his indictment, Karadžić was Europe’s most wanted fugitive. The arrest and conviction of the former Bosnian Serb leader by the UN tribunal in The Hague stood as the strongest symbol of justice for the victims of Srebrenica and the genocide in Bosnia. After being found to be responsible for the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, Karadžić was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
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Image: © Mikhail Evstafiev