A frenetic applause erupted at the Potocari Memorial Centre when the judge sentenced former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to life in prison, giving families of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide who gathered there to watch the verdict some satisfaction.
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) changed on Wednesday the first instance sentence of the former Bosnian Serb leader from 40 years in prison to life for genocide and other war crimes he had committed during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Nevertheless, the head of the ‘Women – Victims of War’ association, Bakira Hasecic, told N1 that “justice can never be served.”
“For us, justice was not served, regardless of the difference in today’s ruling. The first instance ruling was factually confirmed and was transformed into a life sentence. That speaks about everything he did, but we are dissatisfied that he was not sentenced for genocide in the other municipalities,” she said.
“For the victims, it would be satisfactory if the other side would respect not just this one, but all future rulings. We did not hand them down, we can only respect them,” Hasecic said.
The head of the regional union of prison camp inmate associations from Banja Luka, Mirsad Duratovic, said that he is only partially satisfied with the verdict.
Duratovic said that the fact that Karadzic was not found guilty of genocide in Prijedor and six other municipalities in Bosnia “leaves a bitter taste in his mouth.”
However, knowing the former Bosnian Serb leader will spend the rest of his life in prison is enough for partial satisfaction.
“Because he was sentenced for a joint criminal enterprise, which is just a bit of a lesser qualification than genocide, at this moment we have received some satisfaction,” he said.
But the Court, according to Duratovic, did “not find the strength” to punish “the policy which resulted in all of those killings, expulsions, torture, prison camps and so many mass graves, as is the case in Prijedor, but also in neighbouring municipalities.”
For Munira Subasic, the head of the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves’ association, “even if he spent 100 lives (in prison), it couldn’t satisfy justice for us and the pain which he caused us.”
“He was the top commander, he ordered it, and (Ratko) Mladic executed it,” she said, also adding that Karadzic should have been found guilty of committing genocide in municipalities in Bosnia other than Srebrenica.
“I ask myself – God, who is he? What is he? What woke up inside of him?,” Subasic said about Karadzic, adding that he once “lived in Sarajevo” and “had Muslim friends.”
“Why so much hatred towards us?” she asked.