With the extradition of Radovan Karadzic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, the judicial organ of the United Nations has before it a presumptive war criminal of the highest order who was on the run only a few weeks ago. The high-ranking presumed criminal Karadzic, who arrived at the Dutch prison in Scheveningen this morning, is accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, extermination, assassinations, persecutions and deportations, among other crimes (all of which are spelled out in the report by the ICTY on the former Bosnian Serb leader).
Karadzic was handed over to The Hague by the Serbian authorities after being arrested in Belgrade on July 21. The Serbian government has confirmed, from the director of the Office of Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, Dusan Ignjatovic, that the extradition of Karadzic was made after the period for making appeals had passed. Ignjatovic stated that the handing over of the presumed genocidal criminal is further proof that the Serbian authorities are collaborating “more than satisfactorily” with the tribunal, and he added that of more than 1,700 petitions from the court, more than 95% have been resolved “completely.”
More than 160 cases
As of today, the ICTY has processed more than 160 people for crimes over which it has jurisdiction: genocide, crimes against humanity, grave violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and violations of the rules of war. The tribunal has handed down various sentences to approximately half of the people it has tried: Serb, Croat and Bosnian Muslims from Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbs and Croats from Croatia, Serbs from Serbia and Albanians from Kosovo. Until now, the harshest sentence was handed down to Stanislav Galic, an official in the Serb-Bosnian army found guilty of crimes against humanity, assassinations, violations of the rules of war, and indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population of Sarajevo. Galic was sentenced in 2003 to 20 years in prison, but in 2006 the sentence was increased to life in prison.
Karadzic, president of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia from 1992 to 1995, was among the highest ranking politicians the ICTY has faced. Earlier there had been other relevant figures on the docket. Slobodan Milosevic, successive president of Serbia (1989-1997) and Yugoslavia (1997-2000), was accused of crimes against humanity but died in 2006 before the tribunal handed down a sentence. His successor to the Serbian presidency, Milan Milutinovic, is on trial for war crimes. Karadzic successor to the presidency of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia, Biljana Plavsic—considered an extremist even among ultranationalist Serbs— was sentenced to 11 years in prison, which he is currently carrying out in Sweden.
Mladic and Hadzic, still on the run
There remain two ranking accused criminals on the run from international justice. One is the former head of the Serbian military in Bosnia, Ratko Mladic, considered to be Karadzic right-hand man during the Bosnian conflict. Since the war ended in 1995, it has been said that Mladic might be hiding in Bosnia, in Serbia, or in Montenegro. The other fugitive is Goran Hadzic, leader of the Republic of Serbian Krajina (a self-proclaimed state in the majority Serb zones of Croatia). Some reports put him in Belarus. Regarding the two fugitives, the Serbian government says that its handing over of Karadzic demonstrates that it “is not giving refuge” to Hadzic or Mladic.
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