THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Prosecutors called former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic a liar in closing remarks at his genocide trial on Monday, saying he lacks any credibility in denying responsibility for the atrocities committed on a massive scale while he was in charge.
Prosecutor Alan Tieger said Karadzic, 69, should be convicted and imprisoned for life, the heaviest punishment possible at the U.N. Yugoslav Tribunal.
Karadzic was president of the breakaway Bosnian Serb Republic during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War that left 100,000 dead. His responsibilities included ultimate oversight of the army commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is also on trial for genocide in The Hague.
Karadzic says he is innocent of any wrongdoing and was unaware of the slaughter of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces at Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 1995 — the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
Leading his own defense, he is expected to deliver his closing remarks Wednesday.
Tieger said Karadzic publicly "bragged at the time about the painstaking steps he was taking" to violently remove non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia to create an "ethnically pure" Serb mini-state. Karadzic now denies that, Tieger said, promoting a "revisionist history" and "blaming those who did his dirty work."
Karadzic is charged with 11 crimes in all, including genocide for Srebrenica and for the ethnic cleansing of many towns at the start of the war in 1992. He also is charged with murder and persecution for the shelling and sniper campaign that terrorized the citizens of Sarajevo during a lengthy siege.
In Bosnia, Karadzic's daughter, Sonja Karadzic-Jovicevic, echoed the opinion of many Bosnian Serbs who believe the tribunal is biased against them. "If the Hague tribunal were not just an emissary of the NATO alliance, he would be released," she said.
Karadzic went into hiding after the war but was caught in neighboring Serbia in 2008, having spent years in disguise as a bushy-bearded new-age healer. He was transferred to the tribunal and went on trial in 2009. He never followed through on vows to take the stand himself.
"Whatever happens, nobody can bring back the dead and none of those hidden in mass graves will rise from there," said Emir Sahinpasic, a Bosnian who lives in Sarajevo. He added that he thinks Karadzic will ultimately receive a life sentence.
Prosecutors argue that Karadzic was a "driving force" designing and carrying out ethnic cleansing policies. But even if he is not convicted directly, prosecutors say he should be still be punished for aiding and abetting those who carried out atrocities; or for failing to prevent them; or for not attempting to punish perpetrators after the fact.
A verdict is expected sometime in mid-2015.
Aida Cerkez contributed to this story from Sarejevo, Bosnia.