The United Nations Secretary-General hailed the conviction of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic Thursday as historic “for the people of the region and beyond as well as for international criminal justice.”
Ban Ki-moon said that the judgment shows once again that “fugitives cannot outrun the international community's collective resolve to make sure that they face justice according to the law.”
The U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Karadzic of genocide and nine other charges, and sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
The court found the 70-year-old Karadzic guilty for Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war that left 100,000 people dead.
ITCY said Karadzic was criminally responsible for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, when Serb forces killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys, in what has been called the worst atrocity in Europe since the Holocaust.
Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said that without Karadzic’s support the Srebrenica massacre could not have happened.
However, Karadzic was acquitted by The Hague tribunal of a count of genocide for the campaign to drive Bosnian Muslims and Croats out of villages claimed by Serb forces during the conflict.
As the most senior Bosnian Serb leader, Karadzic's responsibilities during the Bosnian War included ultimate oversight of the Bosnian Serb army. The official commander of the army, former General Ratko Mladic, is also on trial for genocide in The Hague.
Admitted 'moral responsibility'
In his closing statement at the tribunal in 2014, Karadzic admitted only "moral responsibility" for his wartime actions.
Karadzic insisted U.N. prosecutors do not have any evidence to support charges linking him to atrocities in the Bosnian War, and accused them of putting the entire Serb people on trial.
In a 874-page written statement at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Karadzic said he was not aware at the time of the slaughter at Srebrenica.