Radovan Karadzic needs special protection from revenge attacks in UK jail

Serb war criminal will be transferred to Britain to serve life sentence for genocide

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 20, 2019, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic reacts at the court room of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague, Netherlands, while waiting to hear the final judgement on his role in the bloody conflict that tore his country apart a quarter of a century ago.
  Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, currently behind bars in The Hague, will serve the rest of his sentence for the Srebrenica genocide in a British prison, the government in London said Tuesday. / AFP / POOL / Peter Dejong

War criminal Radovan Karadzic, who was convicted of orchestrating the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, is in line for round-the-clock protection from revenge attacks after he is transferred to a UK prison.

The former Bosnian Serb leader is moving from the Netherlands to a jail in England after Britain agreed he would serve the remainder of his life sentence for genocide in the UK. The UN’s international tribunal said the 75-year-old would be transferred from The Hague “as expeditiously as possible".

Karadzic – who masterminded the 1992-1995 Bosnian war – will be put into a maximum-security prison but his lawyer Peter Robinson said the move could be a "death sentence".

A Prison Service source told The Times the former warlord "won't be spending much time outside his cell" to ensure his safety.

“There’ll be plenty of inmates who’d want to attack him,” they said.

Radislav Krstic, a Bosnian war criminal serving 35 years in Wakefield jail, sued the UK government in 2014 after he was slashed with a razor by three Muslim inmates. He was later transferred to a Polish prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Mr Robinson said the attack on Krstic demonstrated there was a threat to his client’s safety in a British prison. The move was validated by Judge Carmel Agius who was president International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before it was shut down in 2017.

“The president has designated the UK as the place where he is to serve his sentence over our objections,” he said.

“We objected because of what happened to General Krstic in the UK and because of the difficulties faced by Liberian president Charles Taylor. With a high percentage of Muslims among the prison population, we feel Karadzic will be in danger, and to keep him safe will require measures tantamount to solitary confinement.”

The UK government did not identify which prison Karadzic would be transferred to nor when the move would take place.

Individuals convicted of crimes by tribunals in The Hague do not serve their sentences in the UN detention facilities in the city. The tribunal strikes a deal with member states, who take them instead.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain agreed to take Karadzic to ensure “justice for these heinous crimes”.

"Radovan Karadzic is one of the few people to have been found guilty of genocide," he said.

"He was responsible for the massacre of men, women and children at the Srebrenica genocide and helped prosecute the siege of Sarajevo with its remorseless attacks on civilians."

Karadzic’s sentence was increased from 40 years to life after a failed appeal attempt.

Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in a few days after capturing the town in eastern Bosnia on July 11, 1995.

The episode – labelled as genocide by two international courts – came at the end of a 1992-1995 war between Bosnia's Croats, Muslims and Serbs that claimed about 100,000 lives.

Karadzic and his military chief Ratko Mladic were among the last suspects put on trial by the UN tribunal in The Hague for the civil war.

Appeals judges said in 2019 the initial jail term had underestimated the "sheer scale and systematic cruelty" of his crimes.

In 2013, Britain took Liberian war criminal Taylor after he lost his appeal against a 50-year sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the UN's Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague.

Taylor is serving his term at Frankland maximum security prison outside Durham in north-eastern England after being convicted of fuelling civil conflict in Sierra Leone.