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Former Yugoslavia – Karadzic trial

Karadzic boycotts his own trial

Article published on the 2009-10-26 Latest update 2009-10-26 14:32 TU

Radovan Karadzic(Photo: Reuters)

Radovan Karadzic
(Photo: Reuters)

The long-awaited genocide trial of Radovan Karadzic was hastily adjourned at The Hague on Monday after the Bosnian Serb wartime leader refused to show up, boycotting the proceedings.

Judge O-Gon Kwon said that in the absence of Karadzic, who was defending himself, or any lawyer representing him, he was suspending the case until Tuesday afternoon, when the prosecution would begin its opening statement.

It is not entirely clear what will happen if Karadzic again does not attend on Tuesday.

“The case of Radovan Karadzic is trial ready,” said Nerma Jelachich, spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

“While the statute of the tribunal guarantees…. that all persons have the right to be tried in their presence,” Jelachich said, “there are circumstances in which trials can proceed in the absence of an accused. So that was a clear message to the accused should he continue to voluntarily waive his right to present.”

Comment: Nerma Jelacic, International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia

26/10/2009 by Jessica Phelan

Karadzic 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, and risks life in jail.

The prosecution alleges that Karadzic bears responsibility for a joint criminal enterprise to "permanently remove" Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Charges against him include the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslims at the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

He is also blamed for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that ended in November 1995 with some 10,000 people killed.

The judges will have to decide Monday whether to continue the trial in Karadzic's absence, bring him to court by force, impose a defence lawyer on him, or give in to his demand for more time.