By Denis Dzidic
Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic said he will contest his life sentence for genocide and other wartime crimes – although the UN court has only ever reviewed a final sentence once before.
Radovan Karadzic filed a motion to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Thursday, saying that the UN court should annul its judgment last week raising his sentence from 40 years in prison to life.
He argued in the motion that the court did not take into account “the practices of courts in the former Yugoslavia”, where the maximum sentence is 40 years, and therefore violated his human rights.
Karadzic also said that the court failed to offer an explanation of its decision to raise his sentence to life imprisonment from the first-instance sentence of 40 years that was handed down in 2016.
“The majority [on the judging panel] erred in law and fact when basing its sentence on a comparison with sentences imposed on others, and in failing to consider matters that distinguished President Karadzic’s case from those cases, such as his voluntary relinquishment of the presidency [of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska],” Karadzic’s motion said.
He also asked to be allowed to appoint a legal counsellor to help him prepare a request for the reconsideration of last week’s second-instance verdict.
However, the UN court has so far only reversed a sentence once – in the case of former Yugoslav People’s Army Veselin Sljivancanin, who was convicted over his role in the 1991 Vukovar massacre in Croatia.
The Hague Tribunal’s Chamber of Appeals reduced Sljivancanin’s jail time to from 17 years to 10 years.
The court only agrees to review a sentence if new evidence is presented.
On March 20, the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals sentenced Karadzic to life imprisonment for genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.
He was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the civilian population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.
But he was acquitted of genocide in other Bosnian municipalities in 1992.