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Bosnia divided over UN ruling on wartime leader Karadzic

Published
Relatives of victims of the Srebrenica genocide weep as they hear news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A U.N. court's decision Wednesday to uphold the genocide and war crimes convictions of ex-Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic and sentence him to life behind bars was applauded by survivors of Bosnia's bloody '90s war — but blasted by the country's Serbs as biased.

Gathered in a memorial center near this eastern Bosnian town that was the scene of Europe's worst carnage since World War II, many wept and applauded as United Nations appeals judges in the Hague, Netherlands, increased Karadzic's sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment on Wednesday.

But while Bosnia's Muslims hailed the ruling as bringing at least some justice for Karadzic's victims, Serbs in Bosnia remained defiant, most of them stressing that the ruling is yet more proof that the United Nations judges are unfair.

The contrasting reactions reflect persisting divisions in Bosnia, long after the country's 1992-95 war ended.

The ruling was a "complete injustice for Serbs, for our history," declared Gradimir Miladinovic, from the Bosnian Serb town of Pale, the Bosnian Serb wartime stronghold outside Sarajevo. "He (Karadzic) was our president and he remains our president."

Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic complained that "no one has been held responsible for the crimes against Serbs," while Karadzic's Serb Democratic Party said the Hague court's only goal was "vilification of the Serb people."

The verdict, the party insisted, is "baseless and scandalously unjust."

The Serb member of Bosnia's multi-ethnic presidency, Milorad Dodik, described Wednesday's ruling as "arrogant and cynical."

Karadzic was one of the chief architects of the devastation of Bosnia's war. He and wartime commander Gen. Ratko Mladic were convicted of genocide in the Srebrenica massacre, when Serb forces slaughtered some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.

He was also convicted of other war crimes committed during the 1992-95 war that killed some 100,000 people — including the years-long shelling and siege of Sarajevo.

Relatives of the war's victims expressed relief.

"I am glad that I lasted long enough to see justice being served," said Fazila Efendic, whose husband and son were among the 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed in Srebrenica. "He (Karadzic) got what I expected, what he deserved, what is right."

Bosnia's war ended in a U.S.-brokered peace agreement that formed a Muslim-Croat and a Bosnian Serb entity in Bosnia, joined in a loose common government.

International officials in Bosnia urged the former foes to respect the ruling from The Hague and move on along the path of reconciliation.

___

Niksic reported from Sarajevo. Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide awaits the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide cries as she hears the news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A woman walks through the cemetery of the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Munira Subasic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, left, haggles Peter Robinson of the U.S., lawyer for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, after the court upheld Karadzic's conviction at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and an increase from his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Aisha Omerovic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, is comforted after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
A crying woman with the Mothers of Srebrenica is hugged after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide awaits the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide awaits the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A woman walks through the cemetery of the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A woman walks through the cemetery of the Potocari memorial center for victims of the Srebrenica genocide in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A crying woman with the Mothers of Srebrenica is hugged after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
A crying woman with the Mothers of Srebrenica is hugged after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Aisha Omerovic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, is comforted after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Aisha Omerovic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, is comforted after the court upheld the convictions of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and increased his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
Relatives of victims of the Srebrenica genocide weep as they hear news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Relatives of victims of the Srebrenica genocide weep as they hear news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic enters the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic is set to hear the final judgment on whether he can be held criminally responsible for unleashing a wave of murder and destruction. United Nations appeals judges will on Wednesday rule whether to uphold or overturn Karadzic's 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as his 40-year sentence. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, Pool)
Munira Subasic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, left, haggles Peter Robinson of the U.S., lawyer for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, after the court upheld Karadzic's conviction at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and an increase from his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
Munira Subasic of the Mothers of Srebrenica, left, haggles Peter Robinson of the U.S., lawyer for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, after the court upheld Karadzic's conviction at International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. Nearly a quarter of a century since Bosnia's devastating war ended, Karadzic heard the final judgment upholding 2016 convictions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and an increase from his 40-year sentence to life. (AP Photo/Peter Dejongl)
A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide cries as she hears the news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A relative of victims of the Srebrenica genocide cries as she hears the news on the decision of the UN appeals judges on former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Wednesday, March 20, 2019. United Nations appeals judges on Wednesday upheld the convictions of Karadzic for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and increased his sentence from 40 years to life imprisonment. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)