Arrested in 2008 in Belgrade, while working in alternative medicine under the alias Dragan Dabic, the former Bosnian Serb war-time president had been on the run for nearly 13 years. Karadzic stands accused of war crimes reportedly committed in the aftermath of the break-up of Yugoslavia, which include arranging the murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, the siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995 that left 12,000 dead from starvation and sniper fire, and taking 284 United Nations peacekeepers and military observers hostage, to be used as human shields.
Responding to multiple allegations, including the persecution and extermination of Bosnian Croats which gave rise to the term “ethnic cleansing” Mr Karadzic said; “instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I have done.” Such claims were greeted with cries of “he’s lying!” from the public gallery, yet Radovan Karadzic certainly appears to believe every word he says. Convincing the judges however, may prove a tougher task.
The Karadzic trial began three years ago, and that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ended up lasting longer than he did. These length litigations may force a postponement of any potential sense of collective closure for those affected, and yet the need for justice endures.
Many families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster refused to collect the death certificates pertaining to their lost loved ones, unable as they were to reconcile themselves to the authenticity of the inquest they emerged from. With the announcement this week from Dominic Grieve QC that he will apply to quash the original verdicts of accidental death, those actions now feel vindicated.
John F. Kennedy said that every time a person “strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,” and when you add the ripples together, we can “build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”Amen mate.