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Karadzic: Trial Start Date Not Yet Fixed, But New Requests Filed

23. July 2009.00:00
The Hague Tribunal begins the summer break without having set a date for the start Radovan Karadzic trial.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Judge Iain Bonomy has decided that another pre-trial conference is needed before the start of Radovan Karadzic’s trial. The conference will be held some time after August 31.  The Tribunal will not hold sessions from July 27 to August 10.

At the latest status conference proposals filed by both parties were considered. Karadzic complained about a lack of cooperation from the Bosnian authorities, claiming that they had not provided him with requested documents.

“Unfortunately some governments believe that they should only cooperate with the Prosecution,” Karadzic said, adding that he called on the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina to intervene in order to make the Bosnian authorities cooperate with him. 

This week the Hague Tribunal made public a new set of motions and decisions pertaining to the Karadzic case. These include an order issued by the Trial Chamber asking the Prosecution to find a way of “reducing the scope of the indictment” by identifying individual counts or incidents that could be dropped.

“If the Prosecution fails to help the Trial Chamber identify specific counts or incidents whose removal would be in the interest of a speedy and efficient trial, the Chamber may end up doing this by itself, making sure that the remaining counts reasonably reflect those crimes,” the Chamber’s order states.

The indictment, containing 11 counts, filed by the Hague Prosecution, charges Karadzic with genocide committed in Srebrenica and ten other Bosnian municipalities in 1995 and crimes committed in 27 municipalities, as well as the campaign of “keeping Sarajevo citizens under sniper fire and shelling the city”.

Hague Prosecution Spokesperson Olga Kavran had previously told media that the Prosecution “does not intend to withdraw any counts in the indictment” but that further developments would depend on the Court’s order.

At the last status conference Karadzic said again that he thought the indictment should be reduced.

“From my point of view shortening the indictment would be the best solution. A simpler case would suit me better. However, I am also fine with examining all incidents that took place during the course of the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Karadzic explained. 

He had previously asked for the indictment to be “more focused”, also calling on “the Prosecution to reduce or eliminate certain things”. 

The Tribunal’s order notes that the Hague Prosecution has proposed 500 witnesses for examination, adding that the Prosecution “humbly assesses” that it would need 490 hours to examine them. 

“The Trial Chamber reserves the right to determine the number of witnesses to be examined by the Prosecution, as well as the time needed for their examination,” the Trial Chamber’s order states.

The Tribunal has finally decided that Judge Michele Picard will continue to be a member of the Chamber sitting in the case of Karadzic. 

Karadzic had asked for the judge to be disqualified, due to her “obvious bias”, arising from the fact that she was President of the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1997 to 2003. 

“The Chamber considers that any hypothetical honest observer, who has been properly informed, would realize that Judge Picard’s role in the Human Rights Chamber does not mean that she is biased or stop her from viewing the evidence presented during the course of the pre-trial procedure in an honest manner,” the Court’s decision reads.

The Hague Tribunal also presented to the public Karadzic’s motion objecting to the Prosecution’s proposal to accept about 1,000 facts previously determined by various verdicts.

“Dr Karadzic considers that the cumulative effects of accepting the determined facts and accepting the written statements and testimonies violates the presumption of innocence and deprives him of his right to a fair trial,” the motion argues.

In addition to general objections, Karadzic has made specific objections concerning individual determined facts. For instance, he described as “unacceptable for the Court” the fact determined by the verdict against Radoslav Brdjanin, which found that “Kotor Varos town and Vrbanci village were attacked by the Bosnian Serb Army in June 1992”.

“The term ‘attacked’ is a legal term, which cannot be accepted as determined. Not one relevant witness was named in the attachment to this determined fact,” Karadzic’s motion argues.  

Brdjanin, formerly a senior official with the Krajina Autonomous Region and Acting Vice President of the Republika Srpska Government, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in April 2007 for his part in persecution, torture, deportation and inhumane acts. 

This week Karadzic submitted a request to NATO, asking it to provide him with documents pertaining to an alleged breach of the ban on using Bosnian air space during the course of the war. 

At the status conference Karadzic said that tens of requests he had already submitted to various governments represented just “the first wave”.


This post is also available in: Bosnian