Karadzic trial set to continue

November 2, 2009 12:00 am

, THE HAGUE, Nov 2 – The genocide trial of Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic is set to continue in The Hague on Monday despite his boycott of the proceedings.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger is scheduled to conclude his opening statement in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia which had started on Tuesday by branding Karadzic the "supreme commander" of an ethnic cleansing campaign of Muslims and Croats during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

Karadzic, 64, refused to leave his prison cell to come to court when the trial began last Monday, demanding more time to prepare his defence, which he is conducting himself.

This prompted a one-day adjournment, but when Karadzic was again absent on Tuesday presiding judge O-Gon Kwon ordered the proceedings to continue without him for now.

Karadzic, who faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, has vowed to remain absent when his trial resumes this Monday.

In this event, O-Gon has ordered a special hearing to be held the following day to determine how to proceed with the case in the face of his continued defiance.

Options include proceeding with the trial in Karadzic’s absence or imposing a defence lawyer on him — which could cause a delay of several months as that person acquaints himself with the case.

Marco Sladojevic, a legal adviser for Karadzic, has said his client may attend Tuesday’s procedural hearing, when the defence and prosecution will make submissions.

Arrested on a Belgrade bus in July last year after 13 years on the run, Karadzic is charged with responsibility for the massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys at the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995 — what Tieger called "the largest mass killing on European soil since World War II."

He is also charged for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, which ended in November 1995 after some 10,000 people, many of them civilians, were killed.

Karadzic, who has insisted he would not accept imposed counsel, claims he needs more time to read a million pages of prosecution evidence and study the statements of hundreds of witnesses.

The Bosnian war claimed about 100,000 lives and caused 2.2 million people to flee their homes.


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