Europe’s worst war criminal since the Nazis was jailed for 40 years yesterday for the horrors he inflicted on Bosnia.
Radovan Karadzic slumped in his chair at the UN war crimes court in The Hague after he was convicted of genocide and sentenced. He is 70, and will die behind bars.
Karadzic led the Bosnian Serb regime that organised the massacre of more than 8000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.
The tribunal found he played a direct role in the 10-day slaughter.
He personally ordered the movement of prisoners to sites where they were machine-gunned or blown up with grenades, then bulldozed into mass graves.
Women who lost husbands and sons at Srebrenica were in court to see him jailed. Some victims said the sentence was too lenient.
Karadzic oversaw the murderous 44-month siege of Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where 11,000 people died.
In a planned campaign of terror, troops under his supreme command shelled crowded markets, fired mortars into homes and stationed snipers in tall buildings to shoot civilians trying to find food.
One witness at his trial told how she was shot in the stomach. She survived, then learned that the bullet passed through her body and killed her seven-year-old son.
Bigot Karadzic and his henchmen were driven by hatred of Muslims and a desire to create a racially pure Bosnian Serb state. They put their plans into action during a brutal four-year war where crimes were committed on all sides.
He was found guilty over the savage “ethnic cleansing” of hundreds of thousands of Muslims from land he believed to be Serb.
Women and girls were driven out at gunpoint. Some were raped. Men and boys were murdered or sent to concentration camps to be tortured, beaten and starved.
In all, 2.2million people were forced from their homes by the war. More than 100,000 died.
The West was accused of sitting on its hands and allowing the carnage. Srebrenica was supposed to be a UN “safe haven” for Muslims but no one stopped the Serbs from storming the town.
Karadzic went on the run after the 1995 Dayton peace accord ended the war. He hid in plain sight in Belgrade, growing a long white beard as a disguise and working as a “spiritual healer”.
He was finally caught in 2008 and sent to The Hague. Over a trial that dragged on for
five years, he claimed to be a peacemaker and “true friend of Muslims” and blamed any war crimes on rogue soldiers.
The judges deliberated for a year before finding Karadzic guilty of genocide over Srebrenica, as well as extermination, persecution, forcible transfer, terror and hostage-taking. He was convicted on 10 of 11 charges.
It is not yet known where he will serve his sentence. His lawyer said his client was shocked by the convictions and would appeal – a process which could take several more years.
Karadzic remains a hero to many Serbs, who greeted the sentence with contempt.
His general Ratko Mladic, who commanded at Srebrenica, will face the court’s verdict next year.