Karadzic verdict expected to be ‘historic’, German judge says

The trial of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague is of great significance, says German judge Wolfgang Schomburg.

DW: Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader in the 1990s, is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. How do you expect the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to rule?

Wolfgang Schomburg: I could only speculate. After six long years of gathering evidence it’s hard to say what the verdict will be. At any rate, it’s the historic end to, and culmination of, the tribunal’s work.

Why is that?

It’s the first time the judiciary has systematically processed several armed conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. Imagine Mr. Karadzic had been caught early on, say in 1995, and put on trial. They wouldn’t have had all the evidence they evetually gathered overtime in other lawsuits, or that suddenly cropped up, in what I like to call this “major final trial.” It’s similar to the procedures in Germany when the authorities were figuring out who was responsible for the shootings at the Berlin Wall. They started with the marksmen, and ended up with the East German polit bureau.

How important are the Karadzic trial and verdict for coming to terms with the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

The ruling summarizes the work done in individual trials over the past 20 years. They found out there was a so-called Plan A and a Plan B, which detailed what was to be done with the regions that were predominantly Muslim, or where Muslims were a minority. Without detailed proof, and without giving him the opportunity to comment, most rulings ascribed these plans to Karadzic. So this is the culmination of the trial and the question whether Karadzic drew up this masterplan on his own, or in collaboration with other people.

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