Human rights chief welcomes Karadžić verdict

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Radovan Karadžić. (Screen grab from ICTY TV)

The conviction of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić for crimes committed during the Balkan wars two decades ago is "hugely significant," the UN Human Rights High Commissioner has said.

An international court in The Hague on Thursday found Karadzic guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

He was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein described the verdict as "historic."

Dianne Penn reports.

Radovan Karadžić was one of the highest ranking officials to be tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

He faced 11 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and violations of the laws or customs of war.

The UN human rights chief issued a statement immediately following the verdict, welcoming the judgment.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein described it as "symbolically powerful–above all for the victims of the crimes committed during the wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina and across the former Yugoslavia, but also for victims across the world."

Karadžić, he said, had "master-minded" the confinement, rape, torture and murder of thousands.

This included the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Zeid, who had served with the UN in the former Yugoslavia during the time of the Balkan wars, noted that the conviction could be subject to appeal.

Still, he said "this historic verdict should be a turning point."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration:1’04″

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