Radovan Karadzic has begun his opening statement in defence of war crimes charges in The Hague.
The former Bosnian Serb leader told the UN war crimes tribunal that the cause of his people during the 1992 to 1995 Bosnian war was “just and sacred.”
Karadzic is expected to outline his defence both today and tomorrow, speaking for three hours each day. On Wednesday the prosecution is scheduled to begin to call its witnesses.
Karadzic is accused of two counts of genocide and nine other counts that include murder, persecution and extermination.
The charges relate to his time as Bosnian Serb leader during the war, when the prosecution alleges he led a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Bosnia’s Muslim and Croat communities.
This campaign for a purely ethnic-Serb state included the 43-month siege of Sarajevo in which up to 12,000 people are thought to have died and also the Srebrenica massacre of an estimated 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Karadzic insists he is innocent but, having not entered a formal plea, the tribunal has entered a ‘not guilty’ plea on his behalf.