Wednesday, May 18, 2011

War Crimes: Judges hearing Karadžic case at UN war crimes tribunal visit Sarajevo

Bomb-damaged buildings on the outskirts of Sarajevo's Butmir Airport in 1992

UN - Judges at the United Nations tribunal conducting the genocide trial of the wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic today began a five-day site visit to Sarajevo, the subject of a notorious and protracted siege during the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s.

The four-judge panel – along with the prosecution and defence – from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is visiting several sites in Sarajevo and surrounding areas after a request made by Mr. Karadžic.

Mr. Karadžic is charged with two counts of genocide and a series of other crimes, including murder, extermination, persecution, deportation and the taking of hostages, related to actions taken against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.

The indictment states that he was responsible for a protracted campaign of shelling and sniping of civilian districts of Sarajevo during the 44-month siege of the city. As a result of the attacks, thousands of people were killed and wounded, including many children and elderly persons.

The indictment alleges that the shelling and sniping was directed at civilians as they carried out everyday activities, such as tending vegetable plots, queuing for bread, attending funerals, riding on trams or simply walking with children or friends.

Prosecutors say the attacks had no military purpose and were designed to keep Sarajevans in a constant state of terror.

Mr. Karadžic was arrested in 2008 after 13 years on the run and taken to The Hague in the Netherlands, where the ICTY is based. His trial, which began in October 2009, is currently on a short suspension and is due to resume at the start of next month.