Karadzic trial to take seven-week break

16th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The genocide trial of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic will be suspended from March 21 to May 5 to enable him to absorb documents produced by the prosecution, the court said Wednesday.

These comprise 1,725 items totalling an estimated 32,000 pages and 142 videos containing an estimated 200 hours of material, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said in a statement.

"The Chamber reiterates its deep concern about the volume of potentially exculpatory material which the Prosecution continues to disclose to the Accused, and the impact which this has had on the Accused's preparations and the smooth conduct of this trial," it added.

Last September the judges in the trial that started in October 2009 said they were "concerned" it could take four years or longer.

"A trial of no more than three years' length is manageable," presiding judge O-Gon Kwon told a conference in The Hague.

"We are concerned that this trial may increase in length to four or even more years. Our primary concern is to ensure a fair and expeditious trial. A trial that is not manageable in terms of its size risks to undermine these requirements."

Kwon said the prosecution was presenting an "unprecedented" volume of evidence and witnesses, while Karadzic, who represents himself in court, took up much time asking witnesses "irrelevant" questions and reading drawn-out passages from documents.

If the current pace continued, "the hearing of evidence will not be concluded until July 2013" on the current four-day trial week, and by January 2013 if this was increased to five days.

The hearing of further rebuttal and rejoinder evidence could add up to nine months to the proceedings, to April 2014, after which the judgment will be written.

The trial was initially planned to conclude by December 2012.

Karadzic, 65, faces 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide arising from Bosnia's 1992-95 war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million left homeless.

He was arrested in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, also tried before the ICTY, died of a heart attack in March 2006, just weeks before the end of his own four-year-long trial.

© 2011 AFP

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