Srebrenica convictions are ‘Triumph of Justice’ - Says Karadzic prosecutor | Eurasia Diary -

18 October, Friday

Srebrenica convictions are ‘Triumph of Justice’ - Says Karadzic prosecutor

With almost 50 defendants sentenced so far to hundreds of years in prison for Srebrenica crimes, including Radovan Karadzic this year, Hague court prosecutor Alan Tieger said he is particularly satisfied that high-ranking perpetrators were convicted.

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“The challenges in investigating and prosecuting genocide were immense,” Alan Tieger, who was in charge of the case against Radovan Karadzic at the UN court in The Hague, told BIRN ahead of the 24th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres on Thursday, writes Balkan Insight.

“In Srebrenica, there was a concerted effort to conceal crimes that had taken place within a relatively short period of time, ranging from coded language as the crimes were unfolding to the reburial of the bodies to locations where it was expected they would never be found. It wasn’t the first attempt to hide crimes and the remains of victims, but its scale and coordination were extraordinary,” Tieger explained.

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Karadzic was one of five people whose verdicts have been handed down after trials on Srebrenica charges since the last anniversary of the 1995 massacres, in which more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

In March this year, the Hague court increased Karadzic’s sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. As well as being found guilty of genocide, he was convicted of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tieger said that “all cases against commanders are difficult”, but that the Srebrenica charges against Karadzic could have been harder to prosecute than those against former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, who is also on trial in The Hague.

“In the context of Srebrenica, the Karadzic case may have been seen from outside as the more difficult of the two because Mladic was physically present during events, while Karadzic commanded from a distance,” Tieger explained.

“Ultimately, the extensive evidence revealing Karadzic’s fixation on and responsibility for Srebrenica – from the decision in Directive 7 [a Bosnian Serb official decision in March 1995, which Karadzic signed] to ‘create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica and Zepa’ to the evidence of Karadzic’s command and control throughout reflected in orders and reports back, to the cover-up efforts – made his physical distance from Srebrenica meaningless,” he added.

Speaking about the evidence that made the greatest impact on him, Tieger singled out an intercepted conversation between the security chief of Bosnian Serb Army’s main headquarters and the commander of its Drina Corps, in which the deployment of between 15 and 30 men was requested because there were “3,500 more parcels” that had to be “distributed”.

The ‘parcels’ were the captured Bosniaks from Srebrenica who were to be killed.

The Hague Tribunal and courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia have so far sentenced a total of 47 people to 704 years in prison – plus four life sentences, including Karadzic’s – for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Srebrenica.

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