Karadzic genocide trial set to resume despite boycott

27th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

A day after Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic refused to attend the first day of his trial, the ICTY court prepares to proceed with the trial.

The Hague – Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic vowed to boycott the second day of his genocide trial in The Hague Tuesday as the court prepares to hear the prosecution's opening statement.

Karadzic refused to attend the first day of his trial at International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Monday, forcing a one-day adjournment after a sitting of just 15 minutes and the presiding judge accusing him of obstructing the process.

Despite an appeal from judge O-Gon Kwon to reconsider, Karadzic said through a legal representative on Monday that he would also not be present for the second day of the hearing -- insisting he needs more time to prepare.

Karadzic, 64, is conducting his own defence.

He is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed about 100,000 lives and forced some 2.2 million people from their homes.

He denies all the charges, but faces life imprisonment.

Kwon on Monday warned Karadzic of "measures that can be taken should he continue to obstruct the progress of the trial". This may include imposing a defence lawyer on him or proceeding in his absence.

But after meeting Karadzic in his jail cell, his legal adviser Marco Sladojevic said the former leader of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic "will not appear" before the court Tuesday as he needed more time to study a million pages of prosecution evidence and hundreds of witness statements.

Sladojevic also stressed that Karadzic "will never accept any imposed counsel" as demanded by the prosecution.

International law professor Willem van Genugten of the Tilburg University in the Netherlands, said the judges appeared to be buying time in adjourning the trial for a day in a bid to "lure Karadzic to the court".

While they had threatened to impose a lawyer on him, actually doing so could mean months of legal wrangling, he told AFP.

The court has denied repeated requests by Karadzic for a month-long delay in the start of the trial.

"If Karadzic is not there tomorrow, the judges may have no choice but to start negotiating with him for a delay," Van Genugten said -- as allowing the prosecution to make its opening statement in Karadzic's absence may give him grounds for a later appeal.

The hearing is set to open at 2:15 pm (1315 GMT).

Karadzic stands accused of having "participated in an overarching joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat inhabitants from the territories of Bosnia Hercegovina claimed as Bosnian Serb territory," according to the charge sheet.

Key among the charges is the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys at the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, as well as the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that ended in November 1995.

He is alleged to have worked with Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who died midway through his own UN genocide trial in March 2006.

Karadzic's former right-hand man, Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, is still on the run.

AFP / Expatica

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