Final judgement for war criminal Karadžić

The UN's war crimes tribunal in The Hague has sentenced the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadžić to life imprisonment, increasing the sentence of 40 years handed down by the previous court. Karadžić was found guilty of the genocide in Srebrenica and other crimes. How will the sentence affect life in the Balkans?

Open/close all quotes
Večer (SI) /

Clear message to hard-core nationalists

This second ruling on Karadžić sends a vital signal, Večer stresses:

“The survivors of Srebrenica at least have been given a certain satisfaction. The life sentence for the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić won't bring back the 8,372 victims of the biggest genocide on European soil since War World War II. Nevertheless this judgement, handed down three years after he was sentenced to just 40 years, sends a clear message to all those who still dream of a Greater Serbia, a Greater Croatia, or any one-nation state on the Balkans brought about by bloodshed: crimes will be punished.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Judgement won't change the situation

The final judgement against Radovan Karadžić won't change a thing in his home country, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung fears:

“For almost two decades Milorad Dodik has been the key figure in the Republika Srpska. He ran in the 1998 election as a declared opponent of Karadžić, who stayed in hiding. ... Later on Dodik changed his course. He had realised that it was easier to govern if you kept the ethnic tensions simmering. Karadžić's conviction would have been the moment for Dodik to go back to the start. He could say: 'Karadžić is a criminal, we assume responsibility for ensuring that this won't happen again. And now we look to the future.' He would win countless hearts among the Bosniaks and the Croats - and lose only a few among the Serbs. But Dodik won't do that.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Such judgements don't act as a deterrent

International tribunals have an ambivalent track record, Die Welt writes:

“Yes, it is good and important to put monsters like Karadžić on trial. That way victims and their families receive justice. And it forces societies where such crimes take place to face up to the full extent of the perfidy committed on their soil. ... And judgements like the one against Karadžić also affect the world we live in. At least they give the victims of other blatant war crimes - or their families - the hope that their tormentors will also be put on trial some day. One expectation has not been fulfilled, however. ... When criminals are put on trial it should stop others from committing similar offences. This deterrent effect has failed to materialise internationally, however.”