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July 12, 2013

UN judges reinstate Karadzic genocide charge

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Appeals judges at the United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes tribunal reinstated Thursday a genocide charge against Radovan Karadzic linked to a campaign of killing and mistreating non-Serbs at the start of the Bosnian war in 1992.

The decision reversed the former Bosnian Serb president’s acquittal last year on one of the two genocide charges he faces, but it does not amount to a conviction.

Presiding Judge Theodor Meron said appeals judges believe that prosecution evidence presented at Karadzic’s trial “could indicate that Karadzic possessed genocidal intent” during a campaign in 1992 aimed at driving Muslims and Croats out of towns and villages claimed by Serbs as their territory.

The decision will draw out Karadzic’s trial on charges including orchestrating Europe’s worst massacre since World War II, the 1995 murder by Serb forces of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica.

The ruling in The Hague came on the day survivors gathered in Srebrenica to mark the 18th anniversary of the massacre by reburying 409 recently identified sets of remains exhumed from mass graves.

Karadzic’s trial began in 2009, and prosecutors rested their case last year. Karadzic, who is defending himself in The Hague, called for acquittal on all 11 charges at the end of the prosecution case, saying there was insufficient evidence to convict him.

Judges rejected his request in all but the genocide charge covering the killings and mistreatment of non-Serbs in 1992 — the charge which has now been reinstated.

Karadzic also had argued that reinstating the charge would “disrupt the ongoing trial ... and would represent an irresponsible use of public funds,” Meron said.

The 68-year-old former Bosnian Serb leader showed no emotion as Meron ordered him to stand in court and told him the charge had been reinstated.

Peter Robinson, an American lawyer helping Karadzic with his defense, said his client was disappointed by the five-judge panel’s decision, “but he is taking on board their comments about the crimes and his intent and we are determined to go on and put on a strong case in the defense phase.”

 

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