, THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Mar 24 – UN war crimes judges will Thursday deliver a keenly-awaited judgement on wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide for some of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since World War II.
Once the feared leader of Bosnia’s Serb minority during the Balkan country’s brutal 1992-95 war, Karadzic faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the bloody slaughter that claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million others.
Karadzic, sporting his familiar bouffant hairstyle, will face judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at 1300 GMT for the historic ruling.
Now 70, the one-time psychiatrist will be the highest-profile politician from the Balkan wars to face judgement, after former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell in The Hague while on trial in 2006.
Karadzic, as president of the breakaway Republika Srpska, is accused of taking part in a joint criminal scheme to “permanently remove Muslim and Bosnian Croat inhabitants… from areas claimed as Bosnian Serb territory”.
This was done through a ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing, indiscriminate killings, persecutions and terror, said the ICTY’s prosecutors, who have asked for a life sentence.
A long-time fugitive from justice until his arrest in 2008, Karadzic was notably wanted for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in eastern Bosnia.
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves by Bosnian Serb forces who brushed aside Dutch UN peacekeepers in the supposedly “safe area.”
The incident was the worst bloodshed on European soil since World War II and has been deemed as genocide by two international courts.
Significantly, Karadzic is also accused of genocide in other municipalities around Bosnia in the early 1990s including Prijedor, Sanksi Most and Zvornik.