“Butcher of Bosnia” Radovan Karadzic Convicted of War Crimes

Radovan Karadzic at his trial this week.

Image: Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic sits in the courtroom for the reading of his verdict Thursday in The Hague | Robin Van Lonkhuijsen/AFP/Getty Images

Radovan Karadzic, the leader of genocide and other crimes against humanity in Bosnia during the 1990s civil conflict, has been found guilty of these crimes by U.N. judges. He is sentenced to 40 years in prison, with allowance for the time he has already spent behind bars since 2008. Karadzic was acquitted of one of two charges in the genocide of the Muslim parts of Bosnia, but was found guilty of 10 other charges.

Karadzic was tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands. The charges laid against him include murder, unlawful attacks on civilians, and terror. He denied the charges and defended himself throughout the 500-day trial, arguing that he worked to promote peace and sought to prevent the war.

The “Butcher of Bosnia,” as he is called, is responsible for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the town Srebrenica in July of 1995. This is considered the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II. Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said during the trial that Karadzic had ordered detained Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica to be transferred so they could be killed. Karadzic ordered his troops to murder both Muslims and Croatians during the conflict as a kind of “ethnic cleansing.”

Karadzic, now 70, spent years after the civil war adopting aliases and posing as a faith healer in the city of Belgrade. When he was found in 2008 Karadzic had grown a large beard, long hair, and adopted glasses to help him hide in plain sight.

His trial ended in 2014 and the verdict, finally reached this week, includes evidence from 586 witnesses and more than 11,000 exhibits.

Ratko Mladic, Karadzic’s former army chief, was arrested in 2012 and also indicted for genocide and war crimes relating to civilians during the Bosnian war. Mladic also went into hiding following the war, but was spotted in Bosnian Serb military facilities, though the Serbian military denies hiding or hosting him; the European Union then ordered Serbia to produce Mladic. He was eventually arrested there.

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