Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said “no reasonable court” would convict him, in an interview published Wednesday, a day before a UN tribunal rules on whether he committed some of Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II.
Ahead of Thursday’s verdict from the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), a defiant Karadzic said he had been fighting to preserve peace and expected to be “acquitted”.
“My expectations are the same [as they always were]. I know what I wanted, what I did, even what I dreamed of, and there is no reasonable court that would convict me,” Karadzic told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in an interview by email.
The notorious political leader faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity arising out of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in which some 100,000 people perished and 2.2 million were forced from their homes.
He however insisted that “my permanent fight to preserve the peace, prevent the war and decrease the sufferings of everyone regardless of religion were an exemplary effort deserving respect rather than persecution”.
Now 70, Karadzic will become the highest-profile politician to be judged by the ICTY, after former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in his prison cell in The Hague in 2006 while on trial.
Karadzic notably stands accused of two charges of genocide, including the 1995 massacre in the UN-protected enclave in Srebrenica where almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered in cold blood before being dumped in mass graves.
Karadzic played down the killings, saying there were “several hundred at least”.
“For Srebrenica, unfortunately, I cannot deny everything that is alleged, but I have to contest the extent and background of what happened.”
He also insisted there was “no evidence” that during the war “official Serb forces, acting in an official manner, committed any crime”.