, SARAJEVO, Oct 16 – Embittered relatives of victims of the Srebrenica massacre lashed out at wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s courtroom declaration Tuesday that he should be rewarded for trying to avoid war in Bosnia, saying he was trying to fool the world.
“He committed such evil in this country that it is hard to tell if it will have a future, if we will ever return to a normal life,” Kada Hotic of the Mothers of Srebrenica association told AFP.
“He is trying to fool the world.”
Hotic spoke from Sarajevo after watching Karadzic launch his defence against charges including genocide at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague in proceedings broadcast live on Bosnian state television.
He faces charges of genocide over the slaughter of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica in 1995 as well as charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for other atrocities during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
“I should have been rewarded for all the good things that I’ve done because I did everything within human power to avoid the war and to reduce the human suffering,” Karadzic told the court.
“He really reduced human suffering, he reduced the suffering of thousands of people by putting them in the ground. He ethnically cleansed many places,” Hotic said bitterly.
She said she lost her son, husband and more than 50 family members in the Srebrenica massacre, the only episode in the Bosnian war to be labelled a genocide by two international courts.
“It is ridiculous, but I did not expect anything different from him,” Hajra Catic, who heads the Women of Srebrenica association, told AFP.
“They (the Bosnian Serbs) will never admit what they did, that a genocide occurred in Bosnia, that Karadzic was the top leader, that so many victims were killed,” she said from the northeastern town of Tuzla.
Catic said she lost 20 male family members including her husband and a son in Srebrenica, the worst massacre on European soil since World War II, and could no longer stand to watch the Karadzic trial.
“My television is tuned to a different channel, I know all the stories in advance and I simply cannot look at them,” she said.
Her view is shared by most Bosnian Muslims, as the interest to watch the trial has waned considerably.
“How could we look at him when his every word is killing us? It is like rubbing salt into our wounds,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic, one of the rare Srebrenica Muslims who returned to the ill-fated town after the war.
Although she did not watch the live broadcast Mehmehdovic, who lost her husband and two sons in the massacre, said his statements to the UN court were “humiliating for the victims”.
“It’s outrageous and shameful. We are bitter” that Karadzic is allowed to give such statements before the UN court, she stressed.
“He has already been well rewarded, along with his Bosnian Serbs who got their own entity through blood and genocide,” she said, adding that Karadzic lived comfortably on the run for 13 years before being arrested in Belgrade in 2008.
After the war Bosnia was split into two semi-independent entities — the Serbs’ Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. Srebrenica now is in the Republika Srpska.