Radovan Karadzic to boycott start of war crimes trial

22nd October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The lawyer of the Bosnian Serb wartime leader’s says Karadzic does not have enough time to prepare for his defence.

The Hague – Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic will boycott the start of his genocide trial in a UN court next week, his lawyer said Thursday, possibly throwing the proceedings into disarray.

"I hereby inform you that my defence is not ready for my trial that is supposed to begin as scheduled, on the 26 October, and that therefore I shall not appear before you on that date," Karadzic said in a submission to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

The document was released by his legal adviser Peter Robinson.

In a letter to the tribunal judges, Karadzic said he did not have enough time to prepare his defence.

Karadzic was set to go on trial next Monday on 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in Bosnia's inter-ethnic 1992-95 war that claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

He is charged as one of the alleged authors of a plan to "permanently remove" Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territory -- including for his role in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 people dead and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica.

Karadzic, who denies all the charges against him and plans to conduct his own defence, told the judges he was being denied adequate time to prepare a proper case.

"We have now the worst scenario possible, which should have been avoided at all costs -- (the) beginning of a process that is not ready to start," said his submission.

He complained of "unequal, disproportionate and unjust circumstances where the defence is deprived of... absolute minimum conditions for the preparations that would make the defence a serious and respectable opponent.

"No lawyer in this world could prepare defence within this period of time," asserted Karadzic. "This trial, being the most gigantic, should have been given at least the average time for preparation, which is almost two years."

Karadzic, 64, was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008, posing as a bearded alternative healer, after 13 years on the run.

He risks life in jail if convicted.

Prosecution spokeswoman Olga Kavran said the decision on how to proceed now lay with the judges.

"We are ready to start the trial, it is up to the judges to make a decision," she told AFP.

"The most important thing is that the trial will take place, if it is not Monday, it will be later," she said.

Karadzic, the former president of the self-proclaimed Serb Republic in Bosnia has filed several requests for the delay of his trial, saying he needed more time to study a million pages of prosecution evidence and the statements of hundreds of witnesses.

Then Robinson said: “He has not had adequate time to even read a fraction of the 1.3 million pages of documents.”

Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said Karadzic has had 15 months to prepare and his rights have been respected.

Since his transfer to the detention centre in The Hague, Karadzic had tabled 270 motions on various issues.

He also repeatedly claimed that he reached an agreement with US diplomat Richard Holbrooke in 1996 which guaranteed him immunity from ICTY prosecution in return for his withdrawal from public life.

The court has rejected the claims, saying that even if such a deal existed it could not stop the trial.

"My entering the proceedings under such circumstances would be my only crime, for which I would deserve contempt of all victims of the war and a curse of the generations to come," said Karadzic's letter to the court.

AFP / Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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