The International Tribunal which sentenced on Wednesday Radovan Karadzic to life in prison for war crimes committed during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war has “proven” that it is biased and political in nature, Bosnian Serb officials said.
Radovan Karadzic, the wartime President of Republika Srpska (RS), the Serb-majority semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia, was sentenced to life in prison by the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) for crimes including genocide in Srebrenica and the siege of Sarajevo.
This is the final verdict after both Karadzic’s defence team and prosecutors appealed a 40-year prison sentence the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down to him in 2016.
According to the Chairman of the National Assembly of Republika Srpska (RS), which Karadzic and his supporters established, the court “only confirmed its true nature and completely subjected justice to politics.”
“With this verdict, the stance of the people of Republika Srpska that the Hague Tribunal is biased, selective and set up with the goal to declare Serbs and their leaders the exclusive perpetrators in the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was confirmed,” Cubrilovic said.
He said the Hague-based court had in its practice “invented the categories ‘command responsibility’ and ‘joint criminal enterprise’, which were exclusively reserved for Serb officers and political representatives.”
“It is clear that the Hague Court has not contributed to reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he said, adding that it even “deepened the divides between the peoples in this region.”
The ICTY had released perpetrators of ‘crimes committed by Muslim forces’ during the war, he said, naming atrocities in Kravice, Sase and Zalazje.
Of the 161 people the Tribunal convicted, 110 are Serbs, he said.
Bosniaks have often claimed that Republika Srpska should not exist as it was a product of genocide.
But Cubrilovic said that the verdict will not affect the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, the Constitution and the status of Republika Srpska within Bosnia.
The Serb Democratic Party (SDS), which Karadzic co-founded, called the verdict “baseless, scandalous and unjust.”
The party released a similar statement to Cubrilovic’s, saying that the Hague-based court is a “political institution which has the formal goal of processing the gravest war crimes on the territory of former Yugoslavia, but, in fact - it is the continuation of the satanisation of the Serb people.”
Goran Petronijevic, a member of Karadzic’s defence team, said he suspects that former ICTY President, Theodor Meron, “controlled” the process.
“The verdict was factually confirmed, and that is a matter of their understanding. I cannot escape the impression that Meron controlled this process even though he left the Council,” Petronijevic said.
“In the morning, I will go to meet with him (Meron), we are going to discuss what to do with the evidence and the documents that were not used so that they could eventually be used in a revised process,” he added.