War and Conflict

War in the Baltics

What happened to “the Butcher of Bosnia”?

During the Bosnian war, Radovan Karadzic (1945-), the former president of the Serb Republic and commander of its armed forces, earned himself the ignominious nickname “the Butcher of Bosnia” for directing the massacres and mass victimization of enemies, many of them Muslims. Following the war, the United Nation’s International Court Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague issued two indictments of Karadzic, charging him with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Karadzic disappeared in 1996 and was still at large in spring 2005. There were warrants for his arrest.

In early December 1998, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces arrested Karadzic henchman General-Major Radislav Krstic (1948–). The high-ranking Serbian official was believed to have taken part in the July 1995 massacre of as many as 8,000 Muslims in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica. On August 2, 2001, Krstic was found guilty of genocide, persecutions for murders, cruel and inhumane treatment, terrorizing the civilian population, forcible transfer and destruction of personal property of Bosnian Muslim civilians, and murder as a violation of the Laws and Customs of War; he was sentenced to 46 years in prison. After appeals, in April 2004, Krstic’s sentence was reduced to 35 years based on the court’s belief that he had aided and abetted acts of genocide but had not instigated them. He was transferred to Great Britain to serve out his sentence.

Another high-ranking Serbian military leader who faced charges of genocide before the ICTY was General Ratko Mladic (1942-). As the former commander of the Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mladic was considered responsible for the “serious breaches” of international humanitarian law committed by the Bosnian Serb forces between May 1992 and July 1995, including the massacre at Srebrenica. His indictment also included charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was still wanted in spring 2005.


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