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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sits in the courtroom on the first day of his defense against war crime charges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Oct 16, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
THE HAGUE - Former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic started his defense at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Tuesday, while at the same time the last trial of Goran Hadzic, former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina, started.
Karadzic, 67, defends himself and started to read out his opening statement by sitting down quietly in his blue suit with blue and white striped tie.
"Good morning, I am a psychiatrist, a literary man. Instead of being accused I should be rewarded for the good things I did," Karadzic said.
"I stopped our army many time when were close to victory, looking for peace," Karadzic added. "I accepted four out of five peace proposals. In addition, I personally supervised humanitarian aid."
Karadzic was arrested in the Serbian capital Belgrade and transferred to The Hague in the middle of 2008, after having spent more than 13 years evading arrest.
His trial at the tribunal began three years ago. The Bosnian Serb political leader is accused of being one of the masterminds of ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. He is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.
"Everybody who knows me knows I am not an autocrat, I am not aggressive, I am not intolerant," he told the judges. "On the contrary, I am a mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others."
Karadzic advocated he was against the division of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that he was "pushed into a corner" by other parties. "All the time we defended ourselves," he said. "We had controlled over 60 percent of Bosnia. I knew it would be crazy to get more."
"I trusted the international community and often attacked our officers," Karadzic said regarding alleged war crimes by the Bosnian Serb Army.
"I tended to believe the rumors, the lies and the propaganda, although I knew their families were killed. I tended to accuse them, mostly not correct."
"The truth is on our sight," he concluded his statement of about one and a half hour. After that he started to introduce his first witness, Colonel Andrey Demurenko, the Russian UN chief of staff in Sarajevo from January to December 1995.
Demurenko advocated his argument that the attacks on Sarajevo's Markale, which killed over a 100 people, were staged by the Muslims and could not have been done by the Bosnian Serbs.
Karadzic was given 300 hours to present his defense. He has said he will call 300 witnesses to testify on his behalf. After his summary introduction of half an hour for Demurenko he was interrupted by presiding judge O-Gon Kwon, who claimed his statement was too long.
Meanwhile, the trial against Hadzic started in another courtroom at the ICTY. The former president of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina was charged with a number of crimes committed in eastern Slavonia, Croatia, from August 1991 to June 1992 during the war in former Yugoslavia, including persecutions, murder, imprisonment, torture, inhumane acts, cruel treatment, deportation and wanton destruction.
The war-time Croatian Serb politician was the last remaining fugitive of the total of 161 persons indicted by the UN war crimes tribunal. He had been a fugitive since July 2004 and was arrested by Serbian authorities on July 20, 2011.