A Whanganui woman says the outcome of Radovan Karadzic's appeal will be important for the future of international law.

The former Bosnian Serb leader was convicted last week of genocide and nine other charges for orchestrating a campaign of terror that left 100,000 people dead during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia.

Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in Serb atrocities that included the Srebrenica massacre in which 8000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered, and for directing the nearly four-year siege of Sarajevo.

Rosanna Stoop-Maigret has a close understanding of the case, having worked as a pro bono legal assistant for the defence about seven years ago.


Mrs Stoop-Maigret moved to Whanganui with her family last year but has kept in contact with Karadzic's lawyer Peter Robinson.

While working on the pro bono team she was living in Utrecht in the Netherlands, finishing off her masters thesis but travelled to The Hague most days.

"For me it was a big chance at that time because I wanted to specialise in international criminal law."

She said Karadzic had been disappointed by the verdict.

"I know he was disappointed - that's what Peter Robinson told me.

"They basically were astonished by the reasoning of the judges as they drew inferences rather than relying on the actual evidence."

Mrs Stoop-Maigret said it was a trial about who should be held accountable for what happened.

The defence planned to appeal and she said the outcome of that would be more important than the verdict for the future of international law.

"What happens there is going to be even more important for the future of international law because the appeal can change the verdict.

"It's a real political process and structure the court has. I think politics play a bigger role than they should."

Mrs Stoop-Maigret said she had no problem being part of Karadzic's defence despite inevitable criticism.

"Yes, of course, people were really critical towards that, towards defending someone who is suspected of those kinds of crimes," she said.

"Defence plays a very important role in trials. In humane countries a defence team or lawyer has a very important role that he or she plays. Without a defence counsel you cannot have a functioning law system and a fair trial."

She is now settled in Whanganui with husband Hein - who works for Wanganui Veterinary Services - and their children Annabelle and Julie, and they are enjoying life in the River City, happy to have escaped "the rat race" in the Netherlands.