World affairs editor at The Guardian, Julian Borger, who covered the Bosnian war from Sarajevo and later wrote The Butcher’s Trail, a book about the post-war search for war criminals, told N1 that the most significant manhunts were those of the Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.
"The manhunt for them lasted far longer than it should have, but the upside of this whole story that it was relentless, that is was not called off until these two were found,” Borger said, adding that a total of 161 people were indicted for war crimes and one way or another brought to justice.
He said he was stunned to see that the verdict included genocide in Srebrenica, but also surprised that Karadzic was not convicted for genocide outside of Srebrenica.
It was also surprising that Karadzic received 40 years in prison while others who took part in the genocide were sentenced for life, even though the court accepted that he had political control of ther events.
“He gave the orders, he created the environment in which these mass killings happened,” Borger said.
Karadzic was accused - but not convicted - for genocide other Bosnian towns like Prijedor. Borger said that even if those crimes were not labelled genocide, they were characterised as crimes against humanity.
Asked whether he believed Karadzic's sentencing verdict would be upheld in his appeal hearing on Wednesday, Borger said that it would be “unthinkable” for him to be acquitted, and that the question now is only whether the sentence will be increased to life in prison, as the prosecutors had requested.
A professional psychiatrist before the war, Karadzic rose to become the most prominent leader of Bosnian Serbs in the early 1990s. He was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1995, during the closing stages of the war.
After 13 years on the run he was apprehended in Belgrade in 2008, where he had lived under an assumed identity as an alternative healer.
Following a marathon trial which lasted six and a half years at the ICTY in the Hague, he was sentenced to 40 years in prison in March 2016 for various counts of crimes against humanity, including the ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks and Croats in areas under his control, and the siege of Bosnia's capital Sarajevo.
Both defence and prosecutors appealed the sentence, with prosecutors asking for the sentence to be converted to life in prison. On Wednesday the court which succeeded ICTY is expected to rule on the appeals.