Karadzic's defence team expects acquittal

Source: Reuters

Defence expects that the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals will acquit Radovan Karadzic of charges at the final verdict pronouncement scheduled to take place on March 20, said attorney Goran Petronijevic.

If the UN court's Appeal Chamber views the evidence “from the legal and not political aspect” the defence team expects that it client will be acquitted of charges, said Petronijevic, one of the members of the defence team.

Radovan Karadzic, the former President of wartime Republika Srpska (RS), now a Serb-dominated semi-autonomous entity within Bosnia, was sentenced on March 24, 2016, to 40 years in prison by the now-closed International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

He was convicted of various crimes against humanity, including the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croats, the siege of Sarajevo, the Srebrenica genocide and taking the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) hostages during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

He was acquitted of genocide charges in other municipalities in Bosnia.

Karadzic's defence team said following the first-instance verdict that the initial trial was unfair and called for a re-trial, which was rejected. Karadzic also personally addressed the Court, describing the crimes he was convicted of as a “myth.”

A week before the final judgement takes place, Petronijevic said the defence asked the Appeal Chamber to pay particular attention to what he said were shortcomings in the evidence that charge Karadzic, especially the alleged connection with one of the main points of the indictment, the Srebrenica genocide.

“If the Appeal Chamber sees that the Trial Chamber had no evidence for any connection between Karadzic and that event, it will have to seriously intervene regarding his verdict, in terms of its length,” said the attorney.

The initial indictment against Karadzic was confirmed on July 25, 1995. He was arrested in Serbia on July 21, 2008, and transferred to the ICTY a few days later. The trial commenced on October 26, 2009, and 586 in-court testimonies were heard by the Trial Chamber.

Both Karadzic and the prosecution appealed the 2016 judgement.