Karadzic Denies Bosnia War Crimes As He Starts Defence

by
Reuters
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, on trial over his role in some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two, began his defence on Tuesday by saying that far from being accused, he should be praised for his efforts to promote peace.

* Karadzic accused of genocide and war crimes in Bosnia

* Says he should be praised for peace efforts

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, on trial over his role in some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two, began his defence on Tuesday by saying that far from being accused, he should be praised for his efforts to promote peace.

Karadzic is one of a trio of Serb leaders brought to trial in The Hague for war crimes during the violent break up of multi-ethnic Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1999, in which well over 100,000 people were killed and millions were displaced.

Prosecutors at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia have accused him of responsibility for the shelling of the Bosnian capital when it was under siege by Bosnian Serb forces from 1992 to 1996.

He is also charged with being behind the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.

"Instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I have done. I did everything in human power to avoid the war. I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians," he told the court.

"I proclaimed numerous unilateral ceasefires and military containment. And I stopped our army many times when they were close to victory."

Karadzic, 67, is defending himself against charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and will cross-examine witnesses himself.

Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic went on trial this year, and former Yugoslav and Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in 2006 before the end of his trial.