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UN court increases Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic’s sentence to life in jail for ‘Srebrenica genocide’

UN court increases Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic’s sentence to life in jail for ‘Srebrenica genocide’
A UN court has increased the sentence of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to life in prison over the mass killings in Srebrenica during the 1990s Bosnian wars.

Karadzic was earlier sentenced to a 40-year term – which likely amounted to a life sentence for the 73-year-old politician in practical terms – for the role he played in the violent breakdown of Yugoslavia. The Wednesday proceedings were held on an appeal by Karadzic, in which the prosecution insisted a life sentence was more appropriate for his crimes.

Karadzic had served as the Serb’s leader in Bosnia during the civil war in the 1990s. He was earlier found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Bosniak and Croat civilians. These included the 1995 killings in Srebrenica, where thousands of boys and men were killed in what international courts say was genocide carried out by his troops. The court found him guilty on 10 out of 11 charges and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

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UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) handed down its final verdict on Wednesday, upgrading the 2016 sentence of Karadzic as requested by the prosecutors. The five-judge panel, however, rejected their call to impose a second genocide conviction for his actions before Srebrenica.

Karadzic is the highest-profile living defendant to be tried in connection with the Bosnian wars. The international justice meted out by UN over the decades has left many Serbs disgruntled over what they see as a vilification of their side in the wars, and a whitewashing of criminals on the side of their opponents.

The proceedings saw several dramatic episodes too. Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Yugoslavia and later Serbia, famously died in custody in 2006 before his trial could be concluded. Another episode occurred in 2017, when former Bosnian Croat general Slobodan Praljak killed himself just moments after his 20-year sentence was upheld by a court. He drank a vial of poison and rejected the verdict before dying. That prompted the court to change its rules and not livestream the verdict life on Wednesday.

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