NEW YORK – World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Thursday hailed the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to convict former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Yugoslav Civil War in the 1990s. "After more than two decades, the main organizer of the Srebrenica massacre, of the siege of Sarajevo, and other atrocities, has finally been brought to justice. The ruling is unequivocal, and we hope it brings satisfaction and relief to the family members of those who were killed because of Karadzic’s actions," Lauder said.
The ICTY convicted Karadzic for committing genocide, extermination, murder, acts of terrorism, deportation and other inhumane acts, and the judges sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
WJC President Lauder went on to declare: "Last July, the world mourned the victims of the terrible 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, the senseless murder of 8,000 men simply because they were Muslims.
"We welcome that the ICTY today clearly established that Radovan Karadzic not only oversaw the worst act of mass murder on European soil since the end of World War II, but that there were no mitigating factors.
"Unfortunately, atrocities of the kind committed two decades ago in Bosnia are still occurring today, for example in places such as Syria and Iraq. The world knows that this is happening, but all too often, it remains silent.
"When people are butchered by genocidal forces, we must not be silent. And there cannot be impunity for the perpetrators of such barbaric and cruel acts because of political or other considerations.
"As Jews, we know what genocide is. As Jews, we also know what happens when many of the perpetrators are exempted from punishment because of belated and sluggish efforts to bring them to trial," said Lauder.
"This year, we mark the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, which set important standards for dealing with crimes against humanity. The ICTY is an important institution, and today’s verdict sends an important signal to the world: There cannot be impunity for crimes against humanity or genocide," added Lauder.
In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the area around Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, despite its status as a United Nations "safe area". More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were first separated from women and girls and then systematically slaughtered in a series of massacres and their bodies were dumped into mass graves. There were only a handful of survivors.