Judges have ordered prosecutors to expedite the upcoming trial of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic - charged with genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnian war - by reducing the number of charges.
AFP - Judges have ordered prosecutors in the upcoming trial of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic to try and reduce the charge sheet against him in a bid to speed proceedings up.
Judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) pointed out that the indictment covered 11 charges on crimes alleged to have been committed in 27 municipalities -- already reduced from an initial 41.
The prosecution intended to call 500 witnesses, with 490 hours needed to examine them in the witness stand.
But an order from the court published on Thursday said that if prosecutors could not narrow the charge sheet down, the court would do the job for them.
British judge Iain Bonomy said the trial should begin in September and he then urged the prosecutor to limit the charges to genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity to reduce the trial length.
"The best reduction would be to withdraw the indictment completely but I don't think the office of the prosecutor will do that," said Karadzic, who is defending himself and pleads not guilty.
The UN court was initially meant to finish all trials by 2008 and appeals by 2010.
The court's most recent estimates suggest that its final trial, that of Karadzic, would only conclude in early 2012 while some appeals may run into 2013.
The UN Security Council recently prolonged the mandate of some ICTY appeal judges to December 31, 2010.
Key among the 11 counts against Karadzic is 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 in Srebrenica.
Karadzic on Thursday disputed the gravity of the Srebrenica massacre.
"Everything in relation to Srebrenica that has been presented so far is erroneous," said the psychiatrist-turned-politician.
"We do not have a clear picture" of how many died, he said, contending that uncertainty surrounds "thousands of victims" and that people whose names appear on tombstones have turned up alive.
Many of those listed as dead at Srebrenica had in fact died elsewhere during the Bosnian war, or now are living outside the country, he said.
"We are convinced that there is a manifold exaggeration here," he added.
Karadzic was arrested in July 2008 in Belgrade where he had been living a second life as a bearded alternative medicine practitioner.
Bosnia's inter-ethnic 1992-95 war cost an estimated 100,000 lives.
Date created : 2009-07-23