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Judge Orie Taken Off Karadzic Trial

Tribunal president orders pre-trial proceedings to be moved to another chamber.
By Merdijana Sadović
President of The Hague tribunal Judge Fausto Pocar this week replaced the pre-trial chamber hearing the case of former Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzic.

Following his order of August 21, the Karadzic trial will be moved from pre-trial chamber one, presided by Judge Alphonse Orie, to that of pre-trial chamber three, which is led by Judge Patrick Robinson. It is likely that the same judge will preside over the trial when it begins.

Pocar’s decision was issued just a few days after Karadzic filed a motion asking that Judge Orie from Holland be removed from the case because of an alleged conflict of interest.

Judge Orie is one of the tribunal’s most experienced judges. Twelve years ago, he served on the defence team of Bosnian Serb local politician Dusko Tadic. He was also presiding judge in the trial of former Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker and close ally of Karadzic Momcilo Krajisnik.

IWPR raised the possibility of a conflict of interest arising in the event of Orie presiding over the Karadzic trial in an article published on August 18, entitled Conflict of Interest Concerns Hit Karadzic Trial.

However, in his order this week, Pocar indicated that the decision to move the case to trial chamber three was not motivated by Karadzic’s request or a potential conflict of interest.

He stated that the original decision to assign the Karadzic case to pre-trial chamber one was made upon the “longstanding and consistent representation by the prosecution, prior to the arrest and transfer of Radovan Karadzic to the seat of the tribunal, that it would seek to join the Karadzic case with [the case against former Yugoslav army chief of staff] Momcilo Perisic, which is assigned to [pre-trial chamber one]”.

However, Pocar added that following Karadzic’s arrest, the prosecution had “advised the chambers that it will not seek to join the Karadzic [and] Perisic cases”, so there was no longer any need for pre-trial chamber one to prosecute the Karadzic case.

On August 19, Karadzic filed a request for Judge Orie and his chamber to be disqualified for all pre-trial and trial proceedings in the case.

In his request, Karadzic argued that under tribunal rules, Judge Orie had a personal interest in this case, “which is based on several grounds, each of which is sufficient to prove conflict of interest of such degree that there clearly cannot be any question of impartiality on his part”.

Among the reasons for this request, Karadzic cited what he called the “draconian sentence” of 27 years that was handed down in the Krajisnik case.

In the Krajisnik judgement – which is currently under appeal by both the defence and prosecution – Karadzic was named as taking part in a joint criminal enterprise with the former parliamentary speaker.

“It is understandable that Judge Orie is interested in having that sentence upheld and somehow validated, which could be achieved through…partial and biased conduct of a case against me,” stated Karadzic.

On August 22, President Pocar announced that the other two judges in the Karadzic pre-trial proceedings would be Judge Michel Picard and Judge Iain Bonomy, who heard the case against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Merdijana Sadovic is the IWPR’s Hague programme manager.

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