A United Nations court has increased the sentence to life in prison for convicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic, after hearing his appeal of the original sentence.
Karadzic, 73, was in court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday appealing his original sentence of 40 years for organizing mass killings in the Bosnian War, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. He was also appealing his 2016 convictions of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, for ordering the July 1995 mass killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Bosnia’s Srebrenica region.
The court not only upheld his convictions but lengthened his sentence. The judge said the 2016 court was wrong to limit his sentence to 40 years, given the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of the crimes.
As the sentence was pronounced, observers in the public gallery broke into applause and cheers. The decision was also broadcast at a memorial in Srebrenica, where friends and family of the victims, holding photos of their loved ones, cried out and applauded.
Sefik Dzaferovic, a Muslim member of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency, said Karadzic “got the punishment he deserved.” Dzaferovic described Karadzic on Wednesday as “one of the architects and leaders of the joint criminal enterprise which resulted in genocide and crimes against humanity.” But the Serb member of the presidency, Milorad Dodik, called the ruling “arrogant and cynical.” The presidency also includes a Croat member.
Karadzic’s lawyer Goran Petronijevic told Bosnia’s N1 television news channel Wednesday that “this is purely a political decision not based on law.”
Another former Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic, is also waiting for a decision on his appeals of his convictions for genocide and war crimes.