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Bosnian Massacre Survivors Hail UN Court Ruling on Karadzic Sentence

Karadzic Sentence Increased To Life By UN Court
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Relatives of victims of the Srebrenica massacre have hailed a UN court decision that ordered Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic to serve the rest of his life in prison on genocide and war crimes charges.

A panel of appeals judges at The Hague war crimes tribunal on March 20 threw out Karadzic's original 40-year sentence, and increased it to life.

Karadzic was found guilty for his role in the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces.

It was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Several dozen survivors of the Srebrenica killings watched the proceedings at a memorial center in Potocari, just next to Srebrenica.

"Thank God for this, since another verdict would have killed us," said Bida Osmanovic, who said her 22-year-old son was killed in the massacre.

Nedzad Avdic, who said her father was killed in Srebrenica, said the verdict was important because, he said, many ethnic Serbs downplay the scale of the Srebrenica crime.

"This verdict comes very late, but for us this is a very important day due to a growing denial" that it was a genocide, he said.

"He got a life sentence, life in prison," Murat Tahirovic, the president of the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide, told RFE/RL. "In a nutshell, we got what we feel he must be judged for. And he received that verdict. Those are the facts that will remain."

Survivor Recalls Srebrenica Horror
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In Srebrenica itself, people gathered in a memorial center to watch a delayed TV broadcast of the decision being delivered. Similar scenes were played out in Sarajevo City Hall, where hundreds gathered to watch the proceedings.

For many Serbs in Bosnia, however, Karadzic is a hero who protected his people.

Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb nationalist who now chairs Bosnia's tripartite presidency, said ahead of the verdict that he did not trust the legitimacy of the Hague court.

"It did not fulfill its task which was to build with its verdicts the basis for reconciliation," Dodik said.

Zeljko Komsic, the Croat member of the presidency, told RFE/RL that the verdict "presents partial satisfaction" to the relatives of genocide victims.

The Bosniak member of the presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, said that only partial justice had been meted out.

With reporting by AFP
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