A new translation of Radovan Karadžić’s 2010 defense before the International Criminal Tribunal, coupled with an alternative history of the Balkan wars.
Karadžić’s reputation is now notorious; he was accused of a litany of barbaric transgressions including violations of the laws of war and crimes against humanity. Debut translator Yelesiyevich, however, argues that Karadžić has been the unfortunate victim of Western propaganda and journalistic incompetence. To demonstrate his point, he offers a new translation of Karadžić’s defense of himself before the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Yelesiyevich contends that the official translation, produced during the trial, was woefully inadequate, and that a more faithful rendering of Karadžić’s self-defense gives a fuller, fairer picture of the events as they actually unfolded. The bulk of this book is precisely this translation, which runs alongside the original Serbian version extracted from the official audio record provided by the International Criminal Tribunal. In the brief introduction, the author articulates his own defense of Karadžić and registers his indignation over his public abuse. Karadžić’s defense itself is remarkable, by turns eloquent, historically provocative, and self-aggrandizing. Assuming his account is not merely self-serving revisionism, Karadžić claimed Serbs had long been champions of peace and compromise, but they met an intransigent Muslim faction that all but insisted on either war or submission. Moreover, he contended that the “forcible removal of Bosnian Muslims and Croats was never our plan.” In many ways, the full account of Karadžić’s defense does add valuable perspective, especially in pointing out that Muslim insurgents were themselves guilty of extraordinary war crimes and that they were often stubbornly unreasonable partners in political dialogue. The book’s dramatic climax is Karadžić’s defense of his troops’ conduct at Srebrenica, now infamous as the site of outright ethnic cleansing. The author is creditably forthcoming about his partisanship: “It is clear now Karadžić has been telling the truth all along.” Most readers will be less convinced, but this translation remains an important contribution to the understanding of a historically significant war.
A fascinating historical document for readers interested in the Balkan wars.