Karadzic genocide trial nears climax

Final arguments begin Monday in the genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the Srebrenica massacre.

The Hague: Final arguments begin Monday in the genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, charged with some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II, including the Srebrenica massacre.

The hearings before the UN`s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) start at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) but Karadzic, who is conducting his own defence, is not expected to address the court before Wednesday.

As the marathon five-year trial draws to a close, the outspoken one-time president of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic will have a final chance to proclaim his innocence.

Karadzic, 69, is facing 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1990s Bosnian war which claimed more than 100,000 lives and displaced 2.2 million people.

Prosecutors say 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.

"Under his command and oversight, Karadzic`s subordinates and those cooperating with them expelled, killed, tortured and otherwise mistreated hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats," said the prosecutor`s final trial brief, released on Friday.

Muslims were "not only inherently incompatible with Serbs, but posed a demographic threat."

"The scale and scope of these criminal campaigns is vast," the brief said, adding that a life sentence would be "the only appropriate sentence."

Karadzic is notably accused of masterminding the July 1995 massacre in the small eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys and dumped their bodies into mass graves.

Apart from genocide, 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.

During the siege, "fear pervaded daily life -- the most mundane acts such as crossing the street or fetching water carried the risk of death," the prosecutor said.

Prosecution and defence have 10 hours each for their arguments, with prosecutors speaking first. Karadzic is expected to close his own defence on Wednesday and Thursday.

A verdict however is not expected before late 2015.Karadzic`s legal advisor Peter Robinson told AFP the hearings mark a "milestone" in his client`s case.

It is "a final chance for him to make his case to the judges and the public," Robinson said, with the defence to publish its final brief on Monday.

Milosevic died midway through his own trial in March 2006 and Mladic went on trial in May 2012.

Karadzic was dramatically arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008 disguised as a faith healer and 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 avoid Bosnia`s bloody civil war.

His trial also saw high drama, when last year his military alter ego Mladic refused to testify.

Mladic called the court "satanic" and refused to answer Karadzic`s questions before being escorted out.

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