Karadzic trial goes ahead without him

28th October 2009, Comments 0 comments

The trial went ahead Tuesday as Radovan Karadzic continues to boycott the hearing.

The Hague – The genocide trial of Radovan Karadzic went ahead without him Tuesday, with prosecutors branding him "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

"This case is about that supreme commander, a man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia: Radovan Karadzic," prosecutor Alan Tieger told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Karadzic, who faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, had "ethnically cleansed vast portions of Bosnia and Hercegovina" during the war that claimed some 100,000 lives and forced 2.2 million people to flee their homes, said the prosecutor.

Karadzic, 64, is conducting his own defence. He denies all charges and risks life imprisonment.

After Karadzic failed to appear on Monday, the trial went ahead Tuesday with judge O-Gon Kwon saying that Karadzic "must accept that consequences will inevitably flow" from boycotting his hearing for the second day running.

After nearly five hours of prosecution evidence, which included footage of military attacks on civilians and emaciated detention camp inmates, the judge adjourned the trial to next Monday, as scheduled, and ordered an extra hearing for the following day, Tuesday, on how to deal with Karadzic's defiant absence.

The options include proceeding in his absence or imposing a defence lawyer on him, said the judge.

Karadzic is charged with participation in a plan to "permanently remove" Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed Bosnian territory.

"His forces killed thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats, imprisoned thousands more in squalid and brutal camps and detention facilities, and forced hundreds of thousands away from their homes," said Tieger.

He said that Karadzic lay foundations for the conflict with rhetoric to the effect that "Serb living space" was under threat from "historical enemies".

"Muslims cannot live with others," the prosecutor quoted Karadzic as having said, showing the court video clips and photographs and playing intercepted telephone conversations.

"They will overwhelm you with their birth rate and their tricks," rang another Karadzic quote.

Key among the charges against Karadzic 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.

"Radovan Karadzic's forces took Srebrenica in their effort to clean out one of the last significant Muslim presences in the east of Bosnia," said Tieger.

"Over the days that followed, thousands of Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered, the women, children and elderly expelled and the Muslims in Srebrenica eliminated."

Karadzic is alleged to have worked with Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic, who died midway through his own UN genocide trial in March 2006, in pursuit of a "Greater Serbia" that was to include 60 percent of the territory of Bosnia.

In his own words, Karadzic had said of Bosnia's Muslims that they "will disappear from the face of the earth," said the prosecutor.

A legal adviser for Karadzic told AFP the defence team was "disappointed" that the trial continued without him.

"It puts pressure (on Karadzic)... allowing the prosecution to make allegations to which we cannot respond," Marco Sladojevic said. "The judgement will not be reliable".

Karadzic's successor Biljana Plavsic, meanwhile, arrived in Belgrade after the tribunal ordered her early release from prison in Sweden.

Plavsic, 79, was sentenced in February 2003 to 11 years behind bars after she admitted playing a leading role in persecuting Croats and Muslims during the Bosnian war -- the highest ranking former Yugoslav official to accept responsibility for atrocities.

AFP / Expatica

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