Two decades after the guns fell silent in Bosnia, a special U.N. court in The Hague, Netherlands, sentences the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to 40 years in jail.
TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00
Narration: They’ve been here for more than twenty years; who knows what they went through when being dragged to the slaughterhouse. For what crime were they killed? Did anybody ask them about their dying wish? What befell their beloved ones? Their mothers, sisters and daughters? They’ve been here for more than twenty years to haunt the history of humankind forever; to remind us that crime against humanity can happen anywhere and anytime; even in the late 20th century; in the in the very courtyard of Europe.
SOUNDBITE [Serbian] Victim’s family: “What can I say. This is so hard, even though I can say that finally we know where the body of my father is. I can now come here every now and then and visit the grave of my father. His body was scattered in pieces in mass graves. I can't say that it is easy for me, but it's much easier now, when my father is finally laid to rest.”
Narration: It’s 1992. Bosnian Serb troops restore to violence in a bid to have a racially pure “statelet”, after multi-ethnic Bosnia has voted for independence from disintegrating Yugoslavia. Villages are demolished, towns torched, their populations killed or put to flight. In Srebrenica, people are relentlessly bombarded and largely cut off from supplies of food and medicine. Ethnic cleansing is in the offing.
The 1995 Dayton peace accord brings an end to the bloodiest European conflict since World War II, a war that left more than 100,000 innocent dead.
SOUNDBITE [English] Presiding ICTY Judge, O-Gon Kwon: “Mr. Karadzic, could you please stand?”
Narration: March 24, 2016. Two decades after the guns fell silent in Bosnia, a special U.N. court in The Hague, Netherlands, sentences the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzicto 40 years in jail.
SOUNDBITE [English] Presiding ICTY Judge, O-Gon Kwon: “The chamber hereby sentences you Radovan Karadzic to a single sentence of 40 years of imprisonment. Please be seated, Mr. Karadzic.”
Narration:Nicknamed the "Butcher of Bosnia," Karadzic, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00
SOUNDBITE [English] Presiding ICTY Judge, O-Gon Kwon: “The chamber finds you, Radovan Karadzic guilty of following counts: count two genocide; count three persecution, a crime against humanity, count four extermination a crime against humanity, count five murder a crime against humanity; count six murder a violation against the laws and customs of war; count seven deportation a crime against humanity; count eight forcible transfer as other inhumane act a crime against humanity; count nine terror a violation against the laws and customs of war; count ten unlawful attacks on civilians a violation against the laws and customs of war; and count eleven hostage-taking a violation against the laws and customs of war.”
Narration: Karadzic has the highest ranking political figure to have been brought the justice over the austerities of 1992- 1995 war. However his …. of his second genocide charge concerning the massacre that marks the start of the war.
SOUNDBITE [English] Presiding ICTY Judge, O-Gon Kwon: “For the reasons summarized during this hearing, the chamber having heard all of the evidence presented by the prosecution and the defend finds you Radovan Karadzic not guilty of count one genocide.”
Narration: That and the fact that has been given a forty years sentence not life has left many in dismay.
Although the conviction of Radovan Karadzic was an attempt to offer a note of closure to one of the bloodiest conflict in the past century, questions have remained unanswered: questions like how did Srebrenica happen? Why were Bosnian Serb death squads able to murder thousands of Muslims in a few days, under the noses of United Nations troops? Who delivered the UN-declared “safe area” of Srebrenica to the death squads, and why? Answers to such questions might bring some others to the dock.
According to a recently published article by The Guardian, new research reveals the fall of Srebrenica formed part of a policy by Britain, France and the US – and by the UN leadership, in pursuit of peace at any price; peace at the terrible expense of Srebrenica.
Karadzic’s case is like a pedestal on which the killed beast is put on display to prove that the danger is gone. But is it? The danger is still out there lurking as long as the dark shadow of ethnic and religious discrimination stretches over the continent. If the Western statesmen cared about Muslim citizens’ destiny as much as other citizens’, brutes like Karadzic would never soak European soil with innocent blood. The trial of Karadzic is to a degree a trial of Europe. And his verdict is also the verdict for Europe. By bringing war criminals to trial, Western officials want to show that they have progressed beyond bigotry and barbarism. But the tragic irony is that Europe’s killing fields have now become impromptu camp sites for refugees coming from the Middle East and North Africa. The way these displaced people are treated will be the acid test for the whole continent. Will it succeed and make up for the past?