Accused Bosnian Serb war criminal, Radovan Karadzic, has begun his defense in The Hague by disputing charges of crimes against humanity. He said he had tried to stop the war in Bosnia that killed over 100,000 people.
The accused war criminal presented a statement to the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Tuesday, during which he argued his innocence against charges of genocide.
"Neither I, nor anyone else that I know, thought that there would be a genocide against those who were not Serbs," Karadzic told the court in The Hague.
The prosecution alleges that the former leader is responsible for the murder of nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys during the Srebrenica massacre in eastern Bosnia in 1995. The massacre is considered to be one of the worst atrocities to have occurred in Europe since World War II.
"I did everything in my power to stop the war from breaking out," he said. "Instead of standing here on trial, I should be decorated for what I did."
Prior to the start of Karadzic's defense on Tuesday, the defendant's legal adviser, Peter Robinson, told the news agency AFP that Karadzic plans to admit he knew of the killings, but that he wants to "challenge the scale of the massacre."
Karadzic has received 300 hours from the court for his trial, during which he plans to call on 300 witnesses in his defense.
Serbian authorities apprehended the alleged war criminal in Belgrade 2008, who had been on the run for 13 years.
Meanwhile in The Hague on Tuesday, the UN court began the trial of the former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic. His is the final trial for the tribunal, which heard 161 cases of indicted suspects.
Hadzic, who had proclaimed himself president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina during the early 1990s, has been charged with crimes against humanity during the same time period. The former rebel leader is accused of murdering hundreds of Croats. Hadzic also faces charges for expelling tens of thousands.
Serbian authorities arrested Hadzic last year.
kms/sej (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)