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Karadzic 'in charge' of ethnic cleansing

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-10-28

The war crimes trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic resumed in The Hague Tuesday, despite his boycott of the proceedings. The prosecution said Karadzic had "harnessed the forces of nationalism" to advance his ethnic cleansing agenda.

The war crimes trial of Radovan Karadzic resumed in his absence on Tuesday at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

On Tuesday, prosecutors branded Karadzic “a supreme commander, a man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia.”

The Bosnian Serb wartime leader, who boycotted proceedings for a second day, is conducting his own defence and has asked for more time to prepare his case.

Karadzic faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role during the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed some 100,000 lives and forced 2.2 million people to flee their homes.

He has denied all charges but could face life imprisonment if found guilty.

Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic had chosen not to exercise his right to be present and “must therefore accept the consequences”. Kwon threatened Monday to impose an attorney on Karadzic if the latter continued to obstruct proceedings.

Despite the grave nature of the charges, however, the trial has to have a very narrow focus, explained Cyril Vanier, FRANCE 24 correspondent reporting from The Hague. Prosecutors will focus on establishing his precise role in the events – and not on whether and when these events took place. “The most difficult thing is to establish the chain of command between these events and Karadzic’s desk,” said Vanier. “It has to be proven that he was the leader of the Bosnian Serbs and of the armed forces at the time.”

Meanwhile, Karadzic's successor Biljana Plavsic arrived back in Belgrade on Tuesday after the UN war crimes court ordered her early release from prison in Sweden.

The 79-year-old leader was sentenced in February 2003 to 11 years in prison for playing a key role in persecuting Croats and Muslims during the Bosnian war.

She is the highest ranking official from the former Yugoslavia to have acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during the deadly ethnic conflict.

Date created : 2009-10-27


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