UN judges on Wednesday ordered former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to spend the rest of his life in jail for the “sheer scale and systematic cruelty” of his war crimes a quarter of a century ago.
Karadzic, 73, stood motionless and grim-faced in the dock as judges said they had upheld his 2016 convictions for genocide and war crimes during the conflict in Bosnia, and increased his original 40-year sentence.
The panel of appeals judges in The Hague “imposes a sentence of life imprisonment” after rejecting Karadzic’s appeal against his conviction for atrocities including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, head judge Vagn Joensen said.
Judges at the original trial “underestimated the extreme gravity of Karadzic’s responsibility for the most grave crimes committed during the period of conflict, noted for their sheer sale and systematic cruelty,” Joensen said.
Prosecutors had appealed for Karadzic’s sentence to be increased.
Bespectacled and with his trademark mane of white hair swept back from his face, Karadzic said nothing as the verdict was read out.
Appeals judges repeatedly dismissed Karadzic’s claims that he was not aware of orders by Bosnian Serb forces to eliminate Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, and to indiscriminately target civilians in Sarajevo.
They rejected Karadzic’s claims that he did not know a military directive he drafted and signed on the fate of Srebrenica called for Bosnian Serb forces to create an “unbearable situation with no hope of further survival” for inhabitants.
In 2016, Karadzic was found guilty on 10 counts including orchestrating a nearly four-year siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, where more than 10,000 people died in a campaign of sniping and shelling, according to prosecutors.
He was also found guilty of genocide in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops slaughtered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in eastern Bosnia, which was supposed to be under UN protection, and buried their bodies in mass graves.