The Butcher of Bosnia

by Jacob Hummer

                 Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, has been put on trial for multiple crimes, most notably, genocide. On Thursday, March 24, Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his position in an ethnic cleansing attempt, bombings and seizure of Sarajevo, and the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys, the largest mass murders since the Holocaust.

                 Radovan Karadzic, appropriately nicknamed, the “Butcher of Bosnia,” was faced with 11 counts of war crimes. The Butcher was most notably charged with two counts of genocide, the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, were targeted by Karadzic’s attacks.

                A founder of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) in 1990, Radovan Karadzic claimed to seek unification of the Bosnian Serb community. He was the president of the SBS from the party’s founding up until his resignation on July 19th, 1996. Karadzic was also the Chairman to the National Security Council of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (eventually renamed Republika Srpska). From its founding on May 12th, 1992, Radovan was also the President of the three-member presidency of Republika Srpska until December 17th, 1992 when the Republika became a single president system with Karadzic as the sole president. In addition, Radovan Karadzic was the Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Serb armed forces.

              Radovan Karadzic ordered the Bosnian Serb armed forces to perform multiple atrocities during the three-year-long Bosnian War. Karadzic played a huge role in the extermination of an estimated 100,000 lives during this struggle including about 11,000 during the Siege of Sarajevo and around 8,000 during the Srebrenica massacre.

                In 1996, Radovan went into hiding. He was not arrested until twelve years later. During this time he built a disguise with long hair and a white beard. Serb officials believe that Karadzic had been hiding right under their noses, working as a healer in a clinic located in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital. He was finally arrested on July 21st, 2008 and transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) nine days later.

                In his trial, Radovan Karadzic is suspected to be responsible for, and worked with many Joint Criminal Enterprises. According to the case information sheet on the ICTY’s website, “It is alleged that, from at least October 1991 until 30 November 1995, Karadžid participated in a JCE to permanently remove Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat inhabitants from the areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were claimed as Bosnian Serb territory.” The information sheet further states “that during May and June 1995, Karadžid participated in a JCE to take United Nations personnel hostage in order to compel NATO to abstain from conducting air strikes against Bosnian Serb military targets.”

                Karadzic’s trial finally ended on Thursday, March 24th, 2016. The five hundred day trial had nearly six hundred witnesses and eleven thousand pieces of evidence. Radovan Karadzic has been sentenced to forty years in prison for the callous crimes he committed.