Karadzic’s Absence at Trial Mocks Justice

The trial of Radovan Karadzic, the former self-proclaimed president of Republika Srpska, started on October 26, 2009. The trial is in session without the presence of Radovan Karadzic. He has been indicted on multiple counts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed against Muslims and non-Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during the war of aggression from 1992 to 1995. He was, in addition to a number of other allegations, responsible for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo and the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995 where more than 8.000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed. The siege of Sarajevo left at least 10,000 people dead of whom 85% were civilians.

The Bosniak American Advisory Council for Bosnia and Herzegovina (BAACBH) commends the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for its efforts to continue with the trial despite Karadzic’s absence. We are appalled that an indicted war criminal is undermining the judicial process by boycotting the trial. The trial is of vital importance when it comes to reconciliation and stability in BiH and the Balkan region. The legal process is a reminder that indicted war criminals will face justice and that they will be held accountable for their atrocities.

Radovan Karadzic’s absence is a testimony to his complete disregard for the judicial process and the rule of law and is a further insult to the victims. Families of the victims have waited for over 13 years to see him captured and transferred to The Hague to face trial. For them, his presence in a courtroom and conviction is the first step in the grieving process and hopefully, eventual closure.

The early release of Karadzic’s successor Biljana Plavsic was a mistake and a grievous insult to thousands of victims of Bosnian genocide. This was confirmed upon her return by the outpouring of nationalistic sentiments in Republika Srpska at a time when rising nationalism in the country and the region is already overshadowing the process of reconciliation and reconstruction. The moral obligation of the ICTY and every citizen is to honor innocent victims and respect their families’ quest for justice.

BAACBH is dedicated to advocating on behalf of Bosnian-Americans and will continue to advocate for justice, peace and democracy. We believe that to rebuild the bonds of humanity, it is imperative that those responsible for genocide and ethnic cleansing answer for their crimes.