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Hague Court Set To Rule On Bosnian Serb Wartime Leader Karadzic's Appeal

Judges will rule March 20 on the appeal of former Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.
Judges will rule March 20 on the appeal of former Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic.

A ruling is expected on March 20 on former Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic's appeal against his conviction in The Hague for genocide and other atrocities during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Along with Karadzic’s appeal, judges are also expected to rule on the request of prosecutors to reverse an acquittal on a second genocide charge and sentence the former wartime leader to life in prison for that offense.

The rulings at The Hague are likely to end the highest-profile legal battle of the civil war that saw the collapse of the former Yugoslavia.

In 2016, Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of genocide for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

The 73-year-old Karadzic, a former poet and psychiatrist, was also found guilty of orchestrating the nearly four-year siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which some 10,000 people died from shelling and sniper fire.

The sentence was handed down by judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which officially closed in late 2017. The UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) is handling outstanding UN war crimes cases for the Balkans and Rwanda.

Karadzic has called his conviction the result of a "political trial" and has appealed on 50 grounds, with his lawyers contending prosecutors and trial judges committed a number of legal and procedural errors during his seven-year trial.

At his appeal hearing, he said he "never had anything against Muslims. We considered them Serbs with a Muslim religion."

"Serbs, Croats, Muslims -- we are one people. We have one identity," he told the court.

Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic was sentenced in 2016 to life imprisonment after he, too, was found guilty of genocide and war crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

More than 100,000 people were killed and some 2.2 million others were forced to leave their homes in the 1992-95 Bosnian war .

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, AFP, and Reuters
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