The Hague: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on Wednesday said "all Serbs" were on trial as he began his closing statement to the Yugoslav war crimes court, where he is charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Karadzic, 69, denies charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity charges for his role in the 1990s Balkan conflict, including the Srebrenica massacre.
"It is the Serb people that stand accused," Karadzic told judges at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), implying the trial was biased against Serbs.
Dressed in a crumpled charcoal suit, white shirt and maroon tie, Karadzic assumed the pose of a schoolmaster as he lectured prosecutors he accused of lying to the judges.
"I know the truth, the prosecution knows the truth, they are trying to delude the court," said Karadzic, his glasses perched on his nose and sporting his trademark bouffant hairdo.
Karadzic is accused of being one of the masterminds of ethnic cleansing during Bosnia`s brutal 1990s war that claimed more than 100,000 lives and uprooted 2.2 million others.
A final verdict in the marathon five-year trial is not expected before late 2015.
The president of the former self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic faces a total of 11 charges, most notably that of genocide for his alleged role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered and their bodies dumped in mass graves after Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN-protected enclave in eastern Bosnia in July 1995.
In his final trial brief filed this week, Karadzic asked judges to look at mitigating factors should he be sentenced, including personal circumstances and his lack of prior convictions.
Despite still claiming his innocence, Karadzic also apologised to victims of the crimes and admitted that as president he bore "moral responsibility" for any crimes committed by citizens and forces of the Bosnian Serb republic.
Prosecutors wrapped up their arguments on Tuesday saying life behind bars "would be the only appropriate sentence".
They said Karadzic, along with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, acted together to "cleanse" Bosnia`s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories after the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991.
Karadzic is also facing charges over the 44-month-long siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.
He has 10 hours to address judges on Wednesday and Thursday in what his lawyer Peter Robinson described as a "milestone" in his client`s case.
Milosevic died midway through his own trial in March 2006 and his military alter ego Mladic went on trial in May 2012.Karadzic on Wednesday said if the claim that he and other Serb leaders conspired in a joint criminal enterprise were dropped "the only thing that would remain would be my good deeds."
"It would be my efforts to avoid the war and during the war lessen the suffering," he told judges.
Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008 disguised as a faith healer. His trial opened in October the following year.
He was absent at the start, telling judges he had not had adequate time to prepare.
When he finally made his opening statement in March 2010, he told judges the wartime atrocities blamed on Bosnian Serbs were "staged" by their Muslim enemies and that the Srebrenica massacre was a "myth".
Later in his trial he told judges that he "should be rewarded" for doing everything possible to prevent Bosnia`s bloody civil war.