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Key excerpts: Karadzic opening statement

Radovan Karadzic at The Hague on 28 Feb 2010
Radovan Karadzic faces 11 war crimes charges, including genocide

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic - charged with the worst genocide in Europe since the Holocaust - has begun defending himself at his trial in The Hague.

He has testified that his people were simply defending themselves against Islamic fundamentalists who, he claimed, were seeking to take over Bosnia.

Here are some key excerpts from his opening remarks, translated from Serbian.

'SELF DEFENCE'

I stand here before you not to defend the mere mortal that I am, but to defend the greatness of a small nation in Bosnia Hercegovina, which for 500 years has had to suffer and has demonstrated a great deal of modesty and perseverance to survive in freedom.

I don't want to defend myself by saying that I wasn't important or that I didn't occupy an important post while I was serving my people, nor will I shift the blame to someone else.

I will defend that nation of ours and their cause, which is just and holy and in that way I shall be able to defend myself too and my nation because we have a good case. We have good evidence and proof. And if I am given sufficient time and resources to prepare my defence, I shall be able to do so, and it will be to our advantage.

'MUSLIM FIGHTERS'

There never was any intention, any idea, let alone plan, to expel Muslims and Croats from the Republika Srpska... The Serbs were the party that made concessions for the sake of preserving peace and they were never in favour of a war solution.

Young Muslims were stuck on just one solution, which would result in war, and this solution was they wanted an independent Bosnia that was 100% theirs, or, as [Richard Holbrooke architect of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement] said 'You can never get 100% of Bosnia' and that is exactly what they wanted. This is an important point unrecognised by the prosecution. Muslims wanted 100% for themselves and they still want it today, they will want it always if given the chance.

How can we expect Serbs and Muslims to live together if the Muslims believe the Serbs did it to them? But the Serbs didn't do it. You can see they didn't do it and we can prove they didn't do it and this and all other incidents of mass murder in Sarajevo we shall prove here that the Serbs did not do it.

[Speaking over footage of the 1994 Markale market massacre] Here is the fake pathetic leg allegedly taken off by the Serbian grenade. Look at the tables, there is nothing on the table. If there is nothing on the table why did 300 to 400 people gather there? These are the corpses of dead Muslim fighters, they put them on the market and this corpse is completely stiff and God knows how old it is and it's of course a fighter.

'WESTERN ENEMIES'

They are trying to accuse me of planning, aiding, abetting, instigating and whatever else you have, the removal of Muslims and Croats from the territories of Bosnia Hercegovina that Serbs lay a claim to. They are claiming their own territories as you will see and that is not a crime… The prosecution is behaving as if this were a crime. We are going to hear that often enough here, and that just shows how false this entire situation is. What a fabrication all of this is.

When the Allied forces overpowered the Third Reich, Yugoslavia came into existence again in 1945. When Germany overpowered the Western Allies in 1991, Yugoslavia broke apart. But now, as opposed to 1941, those who helped to realise German aspirations were our allies from World War II. This is what makes German victory final and complete because Germany made its own enemies from the World War II to help her finish what it couldn't finish the first time.

It would appear that the prosecution has struck an agreement with our enemies in war, or, as we like to say without joking that the prosecutor is trying to turn this tribunal into a disciplinary commission of Nato. To say that this is not an exaggeration. You will hear from the high-ranking officers of this tribunal itself to the effect that Nato planned to liquidate Karadzic and everybody that went against the grain of Nato had to be taken to trial.



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