Karadzic: Serb cause ‘just and holy’

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic has blamed Islamic militants for the bloodshed in Bosnia on the first
day of his trial for genocide.

He is charged with 11 counts of
genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian
civil war.

Karadzic boycotted the trial
in October
, claiming that he needed more time to prepare.

After a four-month delay, he has
suspended the boycott and is now conducting his own defence at The Hague.

Karadzic claims he is innocent of
all the charges against him.

In his opening statement in the UN
court he said the Bosnian War was “just and holy”.

“We have a good case. We have
good evidence and proof.”

A core group of Muslim leaders in
Bosnia was “plotting and conniving,” Karadzic told the court.

“They wanted Islamic
fundamentalism and they wanted it from 1991.”

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 Herzegovina, which for 500 years has had to suffer and has
demonstrated a great deal of modesty and perseverance to survive in freedom,”
he added.

He denied any plot to expel
non-Serbs from their homes and said the Serb objective was to protect their
lives and property.

The 64 year old was arrested disguised as a healer
on a bus in Belgrade in 2008 after 13 years on the run.

He stands charged as the
“supreme commander” of an ethnic cleansing campaign against Croats
and Muslims in the Balkans in pursuit of a “Greater Serbia”.

The war included the massacre of
7,000 captured Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and the 44-month siege of the
capital Sarajevo that ended in November 1995.

It is believed 100,000 people died
and 2.2 million were displaced during the conflict.