Karadzic faces day of reckoning at UN war crimes court

A verdict is expected in the trial of former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who is accused of being behind the worst atrocities in Europe since the Second World War.

The 70-year-old stands charged in The Hague of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war of 1992-1995.

Representatives of victims and witnesses of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia hold placards before departing to the Hague tribunal. Credit: Reuters

Representatives from survivors' groups are expected to attend for the judgement, including survivors of the detention camps and families of the men and boys killed at Srebrenica.

A poet and a trained psychiatrist, Karadzic notably stands accused of charges of genocide including the 1995 massacre in the UN-protected enclave in Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

Karadzic is also accused of genocide in several municipalities, including Kljuc and Zvornik.

And he is further accused, along with the late Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic, of being behind the 44-month siege of Sarajevo during which thousands of civilians died.

The trial comes after he spent 13 years on the run before being found living in disguise in Belgrade and arrested in 2008. He was using a false name and working as a healer.

Karadzic enters the court room of the International Criminal Tribunal in 2008. Credit: Reuters

His marathon trial opened in 2009, when a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf as he refused to address the court.

During the trial, which ended in October 2014 after an exhausting 497 days in the courtroom, some 115,000 pages of documentary evidence were presented along with 586 witnesses, while court officials recorded some 47,500 pages of transcripts.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic (R) and his general Ratko Mladic in Mountain Vlasic in April 1995. Credit: Reuters

Karadzic led his own defence and repeatedly insisted he was a "man of peace" and "a friend to Muslims" seeking to prevent the worst excesses of the conflict.

He will become the highest-profile politician to be judged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, after former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell in The Hague in 2006 while on trial.

Bosnian Muslim couple Suhra Malic and Hasan Malic look at a memorial to victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Credit: Reuters

The Bosnian War

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised as an independent state in 1992.

  • Months later, Karadzic created the independent Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina (renamed Republika Srpska) with its capital in Pale, Sarajevo, with himself as head of state.

  • War broke out in April 1992.


  • Thousands of Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces after they captured the town in 1995.

  • Woman and children were also forced from their homes.

Ajsa Pekez poses with drawings by her 11-year-old daughter Tina in the Sarajevo building where she was killed by a grenade on September 1, 1992. Credit: Reuters

Siege of Sarajevo

  • After Bosnia and Herzegovina had declared independence from Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serb troops encircled Sarajevo from May 1992.

  • The troops attacked the city from the surrounding hills.

  • The siege lasted for nearly four years, killing thousands.