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War crimes trial to begin Monday despite Karadzic boycott

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-10-25

The genocide and war crimes trial of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will begin as scheduled on Monday despite Karadzic's announcement that he needs more time to prepare his defence.

 

The genocide and war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will start on Monday as scheduled despite his decision not to be present at court, a tribunal official told FRANCE 24.
 
“The judges have decided to confirm that the hearing, scheduled to take place on Monday the twenty-sixth, is going to go ahead,” said Nerma Jelacic, spokeswoman for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
 
Karadzic said on Wednesday that he would not attend next the court proceedings, saying he was being treated unfairly and needed more time to prepare his defence.
 
As a defendant who is representing himself, Karadzic “can choose to come to the courtroom, but also waive his right to be present”, said Jelacic. This is done by sending a note to the court and agreeing that the trial can go on without him. If he decides not to attend and also refuses to sign a waiver, Jelacic said the judges will have to decide how to proceed.  
 
Former wartime leader Karadzic, 64, has been charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war that claimed an estimated 100,000 lives. He is accused of being one of the masterminds of a plan to "permanently remove" Bosnian Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia-Hercegovina.
 
He faces life imprisonment if convicted.
 
Posing as an alternative healer during his 13 years on the run, a heavily bearded Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008.
 
Along with his military commander Ratko Mladic, who is still on the run, Karadzic is specifically accused in connection with the 44-month-long siege of Sarajevo in which 10,000 people were killed and the July 1995 massacre of an estimated 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys at the UN-declared safe zone at Srebrenica under the watch of Dutch peacekeepers.
 
Karadzic has denied all the charges against him.

 

Date created : 2009-10-22

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