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Karadzic denies Bosnia genocide charges, says should be rewarded

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 00:07

Zeenews Bureau

The Hague: Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has begun his defence on Tuesday, during the trial over his role in some of the worst atrocities in Europe since WWII by denying the charges that force under his command committed genocide in Bosnia, as per a BBC report.

Karadzic instead said he should be rewarded for his efforts to reduce the atrocities and endorse peace.

Karadzic, 67, is defending himself against charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and will cross-examine witnesses himself.

The Bosnian Serb leader, who was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after 13 years in hiding, has been charged on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The charges against him centre on a massacre of up to 8,000 Muslim men in the eastern town of Srebrenica in 1996 and the 44-month siege and shelling of the capital Sarajevo which killed over 12,000 people.

"I proclaimed numerous unilateral ceasefires and military containment. And I stopped our army many times when they were close to victory," Karadzic said.

Karadzic, a former psychologist and poet, told judges he was a "physician and literary man" who was a reluctant player in the violent breakup of Yugoslavia. He said that before the war many of his friends, including his hairdresser, were Muslims.

"Instead of being accused of the events in our war, I should be rewarded for all the good things I have done," he said through a court interpreter. "I did everything humanly possible to avoid the war ... I succeeded in reducing the suffering of all civilians."

Prosecutors have painted a starkly different picture of Karadzic during months of witness testimony, portraying him as a political leader who masterminded Serb atrocities throughout the war.

"Everybody who knows me knows I am not an autocrat, I am not aggressive, I am not intolerant," he told judges. "On the contrary, I am a mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others."

He also said that some of the worst atrocities of the war, including two deadly shelling attacks on a Sarajevo market place in 1994 and 1995, were "orchestrated" to turn public opinion against Serbs.

First Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 18:06
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