UN prosecutors demand life sentence for Karadzic

AP News
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Posted: Sep 26, 2014 12:36 PM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic should be sentenced to life imprisonment if he is convicted of "a substantial portion" of the crimes he stood trial for at a U.N. war crimes tribunal, prosecutors said in a written brief published Friday.

Summing up their vision of Karadzic's trial, prosecutors called him the "pre-eminent political and military leader of the Bosnian Serbs and their forces" during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia that left 100,000 people dead.

Karadzic is charged with 11 crimes including genocide for allegedly directing Bosnian Serb atrocities throughout the war, including the 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. He insists he is innocent.

The prosecution's "final trial brief" was filed confidentially in August; a public, redacted version was released Friday by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

It dismissed most of Karadzic's defense witnesses as "demonstrably lacking in credibility," calling much of their testimony "confused, contradictory, vague, evasive, and often plainly absurd."

Karadzic and his former military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is on trial separately at the U.N. court, both insist their actions were intended to protect Bosnia's Serb population. Karadzic's final brief was to be published Monday, the tribunal said. On the same day, prosecutors and Karadzic are scheduled to begin closing arguments in his long-running trial.

Karadzic went into hiding after the war and was finally arrested in 2008 in Serbia disguised as a bushy-bearded new-age healer. His trial began in 2009. Judges will likely take months to reach verdicts after hearing the closing arguments.

In their final submission, prosecutors accused Karadzic of being a key architect of the Bosnian Serb atrocities.

"Under his command and oversight, Karadzic's subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats," prosecutors wrote. "They bombarded Sarajevo with shells and bullets, killing, maiming and terrorizing its civilian population for over three-and-a-half years. The scale and scope of these criminal campaigns is vast."