After boycotting and effectively halting proceedings for four months,, Dr Radovan Karadzic presented a two day opening statement before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague justifying his actions during the Balkan War.
“I will defend that [Serbian] nation of ours and their cause that is just and holy,” said a confident and measured Karadzic from the courtroom dock. For over 13 years Karadzic was on the run living as an alternative healer in Belgrade, where he was finally captured in 2008 and transferred to the ICTY. Karadzic requested repeated delays until June with the stated aim of preparing for trial, and would threaten another boycott if he thought his request would be denied. The trial was adjourned again on March 2, 2010, pending an appeal by Karadzic effectively giving him more time to prepare his defense.
The Balkan War in the former Yugoslavia will be forever viewed by the world as the site of ethnic cleansing, where more than 100,000 men, women, and children lost their lives; 8,000 of which were Muslim men and boys, residents of Srebrenica who were systematically murdered and their bodies thrown into mass graves, former psychiastrist Dr. Radovan Karadzic faces 11 war crimes charges, including two of genocide, and crimes against humanity for his role as ‘supreme commander’ supervising the ethnic cleansing of Christian Croats and Bosnian Muslims. The genocide charges relate to the 44-month siege of the capital Sarajevo in which more than 10,000 people died, massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in the UN safe haven of Srebrenica in 1995.
“These were fundamentalist goals to change the destiny and appearance of the whole region,” Karadzic claimed in his opening statement. “Their aim was 100 per cent power, as it was in the Ottoman Empire.”
From 1992-1995 under the leadership of then president Slobodan Milosevic, Serbian forces moved across the country in a wave of genocide against the peaceful Bosnian Muslims and their Christian Croat neighbors in an attempt to eradicate them from the face of the earth. The onslaught displaced some 2.2 million people. Milosevic had been held at the UN war crimes tribunal for genocide and other war crimes since 2001-2006 when he was found dead in his cell after claims that he was being poisoned.