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article imageUN judges to rule on Karadzic appeal of war crimes conviction next month

By AFP     Feb 22, 2019 in World

UN judges will rule next month on the appeal of convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, sentenced to 40 years in jail for his role in Bosnia's 1990s war.

"The Appeals Chamber... has scheduled pronouncement of the appeals judgement in the case of Radovan Karadzic for Wednesday, 20 March," the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals said in The Hague.

Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in jail in March 2016 for his role in the bloodshed during the Bosnian war which left 100,000 people dead and 2.2 million others homeless, amid the ethnic conflict that erupted with the break-up of Yugoslavia.

He was found guilty of 10 charges, including genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre -- Europe's worst atrocity since World War II, when some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were separated from their families, shot and killed, their bodies dumped in mass graves.

Karadzic, 73, was also convicted of orchestrating the 44-month siege of Sarajevo in which some 10,000 people died under relentless sniping and shelling.

Once the most powerful Bosnian Serb leader, he became the highest-ranked person to be convicted and sentenced at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), after former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died while on trial.

Karadzic's appeal last year was heard by judges at the Hague-based Mechanism, created by the UN Security Council to take over any remaining work of the ICTY and the war crimes tribunal for Rwanda whose mandates have ended.

During the appeals hearing, Karadzic denied that he was behind a campaign of ethnic cleansing and murders in the mid-1990s.

"We never had anything against Muslims, we considered them Serbs with a Muslim religion," he told the Mechanism's judges, adding: "Serbs, Muslims, Croats, we are one people, we have one identity".

The former strongman has lodged 50 grounds of appeal following his conviction.

But prosecutors insist Karadzic "abused his immense power to spill the blood of innocent civilians," and urged the Mechanism to impose "the highest possible sentence, a life sentence".

The prosecution is also urging judges to reverse his acquittal on a second charge of genocide in Bosnian municipalities and find him guilty instead.

After years on the run, Karadzic was caught in 2008 on a Belgrade bus, disguised as a faith healer. He was handed over to The Hague and his trial opened in October 2009, lasting until October 2014.

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