The Straits Times
Published on Oct 16, 2012

Karadzic opens Srebrenica defence before UN judges


THE HAGUE (AFP)- Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic opens his defence before the United Nations' Yugoslav war crimes court on Tuesday, hoping to convince judges of his innocence in a conflict that claimed 100,000 lives.

Brought to court after his arrest on a Belgrade bus in 2008, Karadzic, 67, is charged with masterminding the murder of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys by forces loyal to him in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The massacre, when Bosnian Serb troops under the command of wartime general Ratko Mladic overran Dutch UN peacekeepers, was the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II. Over the space of a few days, thousands were systematically executed and dumped into mass graves in the area.

Karadzic's legal adviser Peter Robinson said his client would argue that "no policy was being implemented (at Srebrenica)," asserting that the former Bosnian Serb leader "did not know prisoners would be executed."