milorad dodik.jpg
President of Bosnia's Serb entity, Milorad Dodik
Photograph: HINA/ Mario STRMOTIĆ/ ik

The President of the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said on Thursday that wartime Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes indictee Radovan Karadzic had never ordered the commission of any crimes and that he had only fought for the freedom of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dodik made the statement ahead of a sentencing hearing The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is to hold in the Karadzic case on March 24.

Karadzic was indicted for the gravest war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including genocide.

In a statement for the central news broadcast of the entity public broadcaster RTRS, Dodik said that the trial of Karadzic was actually "vengeance rather than justice", adding that if responsibility was apportioned for what happened in the country in the 1992-95 war, Croatia's first president, the late Franjo Tudjman, and the late Bosnian Presidency chair Alija Izetbegovic should be indicted as well.

"I never heard Radovan Karadzic show any criminal intent. His leadership of Republika Srpska was aimed at preserving the Serb people in this region and that was achieved," Dodik said, adding that at the start of the war Karadzic did not have real control of many areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina where crimes were committed.

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