17 Oct 2012

Karadzic denies war crimes charges

7:16 am on 17 October 2012

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has told a court he should be rewarded for doing everything possible to avoid war, not accused of war crimes.

Mr Karadzic has denied charges of war crimes at his trial in The Hague and told judges he was a "tolerant" man who had sought peace in Bosnia.

He is defending himself against 10 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in the 1990s. One charge relates to a massacre by Bosnian Serb troops at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Police arrested Mr Karadzic in 2008 on a bus in Belgrade after he had been on the run for almost 13 years.

The 67-year-old went on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in October 2009.

The single genocide charge against him relates to the deaths of more than 7,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995. It was the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II, the BBC reports.

He is also being prosecuted over the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which more than 12,000 civilians died.

Mr Karadzic began his defence on Tuesday by saying he should have been rewarded for all the good things he did over the period, and that he had succeeded in reducing the suffering of people.

He said the number of victims of the war was up to four times less than that quoted in in the media, and that he had stopped the Bosnian Serb army many times when it had been close to victory.

He said he had sought peace agreements, applied humanitarian measures and honoured international law.

"As time passes this truth will be stronger and stronger, and the accusations and the propaganda, the lies and hatred, will get weaker and weaker,"

In June this year, Mr Karadzic had one charge of genocide - related to the forcible expulsion of hundreds of thousands of non-Serbs from towns and villages in Bosnia - dismissed. However, he failed in his attempt to have the other charges against him dropped.

Mr Karadzic has claimed that he did not know what was taking place on the ground.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is also on trial at The Hague.