Karadzic defense begins in genocide trial

Oct. 16, 2012 at 8:05 AM
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Ex-Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadzic began his defense in a war crimes trial Tuesday by saying he was a peaceful man and guilty only of "political stupidity."

Karadzic told the U.N. war crimes tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, that he intervened to reduce the suffering by seeking out peace agreements, respecting international laws and performing humanitarian acts, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"I'm a mild and tolerant man with a great capacity for understanding others," Karadzic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. "Instead of being accused, I should have been rewarded for all the good things I have done."

Karadzic is being tried on 10 counts of war crimes and genocide arising from the Bosnian War following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Among other things, he is accused of masterminding the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995 and is accused of being responsible for the three-year siege of Sarajevo between 1992 and 1995.

He maintained "lies and propaganda" greatly inflated the number of Srebrenica victims and accused Muslims of staging mortar bomb atrocities in Sarajevo. Karadzic said armed Muslim fundamentalists pushed the Serbs into fighting.

"The beginning of the fighting, the beginning of the war had nothing to do with me. Nobody thought there would be genocide in Bosnia," he said. "The only crime I should be put on trial for is political stupidity and excessive trust in the Muslims."

Indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in 1995, Karadzic spent 13 years in hiding before his arrest in 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia.

Also in The Hague Tuesday, the trial of the final suspect before the war crimes tribunal was to begin, Voice of America said. Goran Hadzic, captured in 2011, is accused of multiple killings and forcing deportations during Croatia's four-year war that ended in 1995.

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