Appearing before The Hague this week, war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic denied ten charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
During the Bosnian war, more than one hundred thousand were killed and in the worst single atrocity Europe has seen since the Second World War, seven thousand Bozniaks (Boasnian Muslims) were murdered. The prosecution accuses him of the use of snipers and shelling civilian areas.
When denying the charges against him, Karadzic went even further and claimed to be a humanitarian. In his opening statement, Karadzic said he should have been thanked for his actions, claiming to have saved lives. He argued that on many occasions he stopped the army when they were close to victory and organised unilateral ceasefires. Karadzic referred to himself as a “peacemaker”.
His statement attracted heckles from Muslim survivors of the war, some of whom had travelled from Bosnia to see the man who committed such atrocities stand trial. There were shouts of “liar” after a statement in which he called himself a “mild man”. Karadzic said the accusations against him were a result of media propaganda against him and skewed coverage of the war itself.
Colonel Andrei Demurenko was called by Karadzic as his witness in order to support his defence by denying he was responsible for shelling civilians. Demurenko’s first day of evidence however was littered with inconsistencies and contradictions. It was described by the court as being “vague and evasive”.
We must never let such atrocities happen again. We need justice and closure for those who have been scarred by such violent inhumanity.
The BBC documentary “A Cry from the Grave” follows hour by hour the story of the Srebrenica massacre – one of the crimes Karadzic has been indicted for. Through the testimony of survivors and relatives of those who died it explores the pain felt when no one is brought to justice.
A Cry from the Grave has won numerous prizes, been shown at the UN, been used during previous war crimes trials at The Hague; if you can spare a couple of hours, we urge you to watch it: