Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) today convicted Radovan Karadžić, former President of Republika Srpska (RS) and Supreme Commander of its armed forces, of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war committed by Serb forces during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), from 1992 until 1995. He was sentenced to 40 years’ imprisonment.
Karadžić was convicted of genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer), terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and hostage-taking. He was acquitted of the charge of genocide in other municipalities in BiH in 1992.
The Chamber found that Karadžić committed these crimes through his participation in four joint criminal enterprises (JCE).
The Overarching JCE, which existed between October 1991 and November 1995, included a common plan to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory through the commission of crimes in municipalities throughout BiH (Municipalities).
The Chamber found that a vast number of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats in the Municipalities were forcibly displaced from their homes by Serb Forces. Other victims were arrested, detained in detention facilities, often under inhumane living conditions, subjected to torture, beatings, rape and other acts of sexual violence, and then transported out of the Municipalities. Serb Forces also killed many Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats during and after the take-over of the Municipalities, in mass executions or following attacks on non-Serb villages.
Karadžić significantly contributed to the Overarching JCE. Karadžić was at the forefront of developing the ideology and policies which led to the creation of a largely ethnically homogeneous Bosnian Serb state through the commission of crimes. By being at the apex of political, governmental, and military structures he was able to use his power and influence to further the objective of the Overarching JCE.
The Chamber found that, in relation to the Municipalities, Karadžić is guilty of persecution, extermination, deportation, forcible transfer and murder. The Chamber was, however, unable to identify or infer genocidal intent and therefore did not have sufficient evidence to find, beyond reasonable doubt, that genocide was committed in the Municipalities.
The Judges also found that between April 1992 and November 1995 Karadžić participated in a JCE to establish and carry out a campaign of sniping and shelling against the civilian population of Sarajevo, aimed to spread terror among the civilian citizens (Sarajevo JCE).
During this period the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) deliberately sniped and shelled civilians in Sarajevo on an almost daily basis throughout the conflict. “Sarajevo civilians were sniped while fetching water, walking in the city, and when using public transport. Children were sniped at while playing in front of their houses, walking with their parents or walking home from school” said the Presiding Judge Kwon.
The Chamber found that Karadžić significantly contributed to the Sarajevo JCE, both as the highest political authority in RS and Supreme Commander of the VRS. Having control over the VRS throughout the conflict, he was directly involved in military matters in Sarajevo and issued many orders at the strategic and at the operational level. Karadžić used the campaign of sniping and shelling, causing terror among the civilian population in Sarajevo, as a means of exerting pressure on the Bosnian Muslim leaders and the international community in pursuit of his political goals.
The judges concluded that Karadžić is guilty of unlawful attacks on civilians, murder and terror.
The Chamber also established that a JCE existed with the common purpose of taking UN personnel hostage in order to compel NATO to abstain from conducting air strikes against Bosnian Serb targets (Hostages JCE).
To this end, between approximately 26 May and 19 June 1995, UN personnel were detained by Bosnian Serb Forces and taken to various locations throughout BiH. Some were handcuffed outside locations of military significance. Not only did Karadžić intend to detain the UN personnel but he also intended for threats to be issued against them during their detention in order to achieve the objective of stopping the NATO air strikes.
The judges concluded that Karadžić significantly contributed to the common purpose of the Hostages JCE and that he is therefore guilty of the crime of taking hostages.
Following the take-over of Srebrenica by the VRS in July 1995, ordered by Karadžić, approximately 30,000 Bosnian Muslim women, children, and elderly men were forcibly removed from the enclave to Bosnian Muslim-held territory. The Chamber found that Karadžić had the intent to permanently and forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica.
After the take-over, Bosnian Serb Forces detained the Bosnian Muslim men and boys in a number of locations in the area. Beginning on 13 July 1995 and over the following days, the detained men were taken to nearby sites where they were executed.
“As the President of the RS and Supreme Commander of the VRS, the Accused was the sole person within the RS with the power to intervene to prevent the Bosnian Muslim males from being killed” Presiding Judge Kwon said. Instead, Karadžić himself ordered that the Bosnian Muslim male detainees who were then being held in Bratunac be transferred elsewhere to be killed. The Chamber concluded that Karadžić shared with Ratko Mladić and others the intent that every able-bodied Bosnian Muslim male from Srebrenica be killed, which amounts to the intent to destroy the Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica as such.
Parties have the right to appeal the judgement.
Karadžić is entitled to credit for time spent in detention thus far. He has been in custody since 21 July 2008.
The Trial Chamber was composed of Judge O-Gon Kwon, Presiding Judge, Judge Howard Morrison, Judge Melville Baird and Judge Flavia Lattanzi, Reserve Judge.
The trial commenced on 26 October 2009 and lasted a total of 498 days during which 11,500 exhibits were admitted. The Trial Chamber took the testimony of a total of 586 witnesses of which 337 witnesses were called by the Prosecution, 248 by the Defence and 1 by the Trial Chamber.
Since its establishment, the Tribunal has indicted 161 persons for serious violations of humanitarian law committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 2001. Proceedings against 149 have been concluded. Proceedings are currently ongoing for 12 accused.
Radovan Karadžić Case – Key information & Timeline
Radovan Karadžić was a founding member of the Serbian Democratic Party of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was President of the party from July 1990 to July 1996. He acted as Chairman of the National Security Council of the so-called Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (later Republika Srpska). He was President of the three-member Presidency of Republika Srpska from its creation in May 1992 until December 1992, and thereafter sole President of Republika Srpska and Supreme Commander of its armed forces until July 1996.
The accused is indicted for two counts of genocide; five counts of crimes against humanity; four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. Following his failure to plea, a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf on 3 March 2009.
Timeline of the Karadžić case
July 25, 1995
The ICTY announces the first indictment against Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. Charges include genocide and other crimes perpetrated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 16 November 1995, a second indictment is announced against both accused, including the charge of genocide and other crimes in the area of Srebrenica.
July 11, 1996
International arrest warrant
Trial Chamber I issues international arrest warrants against Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić, directing “the authorities and officers and agents of all States to act promptly with all diligence to secure [their] arrest, detention and transfer to the Tribunal”.
July 21, 2008
Arrest in Belgrade
The Tribunal confirms the arrest of Radovan Karadžić by Serbian authorities in Belgrade, Serbia. The two remaining ICTY fugitives will be arrested in May 2011 – Ratko Mladić – and July 2011 – Goran Hadžić.
July 30, 2008
Transfer to the Tribunal's custody
August 29, 2008
Plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused
At the further initial appearance, in application of the Tribunal’s Rules, pre-trial Judge Bonomy enters a plea of not guilty on behalf of the accused, who had refused to enter a plea in relation to the indictment.
October 19, 2009
Last operational indictment
Following a Trial Chamber order to reduce the size of the trial, the Prosecution removes a number of municipalities and incidents from the previous consolidated indictment. This is the latest operational indictment against the accused.
October 27, 2009 — November 2, 2009
Prosecution opening statement
The Prosecution presents its opening statement to Trial Chamber 1 – composed of Judge Kwon (Presiding), Judge Morrison, Judge Baird, and Judge Lattanzi (Reserve Judge). The two hearings take place in the accused’s absence.
March 1, 2010 — March 2, 2010
Defence opening statement
On 1 and 2 March 2010, having chosen to represent himself, Radovan Karadžić delivers his opening statement.
June 28, 2012
Judgement on motion for acquittal
In an oral decision pursuant to Rule 98bis, the Trial Chamber dismisses the defence motion for acquittal on 10 counts of the indictment. It grants it for count one, in relation to the charge of genocide for crimes committed in several municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina between March and December 1992.
July 11, 2013
Reversal of the Rule 98bis Judgement
Following the Prosecution’s appeal, the Appeals Chamber reverses the Trial Chamber’s Rule 98bis judgement, and reinstates the charge of genocide under count one against the Accused.
September 29, 2014 — October 7, 2014
Following the filing of their respective final trial briefs, the Prosecution and Defence present their closing arguments in court.
The Karadžić trial covered close to 500 trial days. In total, 586 witnesses testified or provided written statements. More than 11,000 exhibits were entered into evidence for the case.
March 24, 2016
Sentence of 40 years' imprisonment
Trial Chamber III finds Karadžić guilty for the majority of the counts in the indictment. He is convicted of genocide in the area of Srebrenica in 1995, of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts (forcible transfer), terror, unlawful attacks on civilians and hostage-taking. He is acquitted of the charge of genocide in other municipalities in BiH in 1992.