Genocide Charge Reinstated For Srebrencia Massacre
(CNN) — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic once again faces two genocide charges instead of one in his long-running trial over ethnic violence during the 1990s Balkan wars.
Appellate judges at a U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands on Thursday reinstated the second genocide charge, ruling that the tribunal improperly dismissed the count in June 2012.
Karadzic, whose trial began in 2010, also faces nine other charges related to ethnic violence during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The reinstated charge accuses Karadzic of trying to permanently remove Bosnian Muslims and Croats from parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The charge was thrown out last year after the prosecution rested its case, with the tribunal ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence for a genocide conviction on that particular allegation.
But the appellate judges Thursday ruled that the evidence of serious abuse against Bosnian Muslims and Croats — including detaining them in overcrowded, squalid conditions where they were starved and left vulnerable to disease — could be shown to be genocidal acts.
The judges cited allegations that Karadzic and officials loyal to him decided on a plan to rid Bosnia of Muslims, in part by killing a third of them and converting another third to Orthodox Christianity.
Thursday’s decision came exactly 18 years after the notorious 1995 Srebrenica massacre, for which Karadzic faces the other genocide charge.
Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995. Srebrenica became an emblem for the dissolution of Yugoslavia — once a multiethnic state of Serbs, Croats, Muslims and others — into six countries during a bloody and brutal conflict.
On Thursday, more than 400 victims of the massacre were to be reburied at a memorial center in Potocari in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adding to the more than 5,000 victims already buried there, the country’s state-run news agency FENA reported.
Victims of the massacre have been buried at the site periodically as officials locate and identify more victims in mass graves.
“Sadness and pain, I have no words. It is so hard,” said Fadila Efendic, who was set to bury her son Fejzo at the site Thursday, according to FENA. “This is beyond any human comprehension what they did to us and what we are experiencing.”
The 1992-95 Bosnian conflict was the longest of the wars spawned by the breakup of Yugoslavia. Karadzic was removed from power in 1995, when the Dayton Accord that ended the Bosnian war barred anyone accused of war crimes from holding office.
Karadzic was captured in 2008 after more than 13 years of hiding in plain sight in Belgrade. He had adopted an elaborate disguise that included long hair and a full beard, and was practicing alternative medicine in the Serbian capital.
His former military commander, Ratko Mladic, was captured in 2011 and is also on trial for charges including genocide.
Both men would face life in prison if convicted. The court cannot impose the death penalty.
Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic also faced charges connected with the Balkan wars, but he died in 2006 while on trial at The Hague.
CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Karen Smith contributed to this report.
By Jason Hanna
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