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UN court acquits Karadzic of 1 genocide count

Associated Press Modified: June 28, 2012 at 11:16 am •  Published: June 28, 2012

Prof. Lara J. Nettelfield, a lecturer in International Relations at the University of Exeter in Britain who has written a book about the tribunal, called the ruling by the court disappointing but not surprising.

"Judges (at the tribunal) have consistently refused to support the prosecution's charge of genocide anywhere but in Srebrenica," Nettelfield said.

The court has repeatedly ruled that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide, but has never convicted any suspect of genocide for the campaign of killings in the Bosnia towns and villages at the outset of the war.

"The decision also represents a huge disappointment for survivors in those municipalities and anyone who held out hope that the court — with the imperfect mechanism of individual criminal accountability — would leave behind a body of decisions that corresponded to lived experience there," she added.

Residents of Karadzic's wartime stronghold of Pale, near the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, were delighted to hear that one charge was removed from the indictment of the man they consider a wartime hero.

"His arrest was stupid to begin with," said Rosa Hadjibesarovic, a Pale resident. "I was surprised when he was arrested. I hope he will be acquitted on all charges."

Karadzic was arrested in 2008, 13 years after he was first indicted on charges of masterminding Serb atrocities during Bosnia's war. His trial started in 2009 and prosecutors rested their case in May. The trial will continue later this year on the 10 remaining counts and he will begin his defense on Oct. 16.

He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

Karadzic's former military chief, Gen. Ratko Mladic, also is on trial on almost identical charges. The first witness in that trial is to begin testifying early next month.


Associated Press writer Aida Cerkez in Sarajevo contributed to this report.