Karadzic to Dispute Everything but the Weather

He also warns the judges that his trial would be “far greater than any before it”.

Karadzic to Dispute Everything but the Weather

He also warns the judges that his trial would be “far greater than any before it”.

Saturday, 4 April, 2009

During a status conference this week, Radovan Karadzic told judges that the only aspect of the prosecution’s case he would leave unchallenged was whether it was “sunny outside or raining” at the time of the alleged events.



Presiding Judge Iain Bonomy had asked Karadzic to address the issue of “adjudicated facts” – facts which have been established in other proceedings before the tribunal and so don’t need to be proven in court.



“Have you not considered elements that don’t require challenging?” asked Judge Bonomy.



“For the time being, I only have in mind the weather,” said Karadzic.



His defiant stance was evident throughout the April 2 conference, which lasted for more than two hours.



At one point, he lambasted the judges for being from “NATO countries” and protested at having to deal with so many documents in “NATO country languages”.



“Let that be the end of your political grandstanding,” chided Judge Bonomy, after asking the accused to limit his statements to relevant topics.



Karadzic, president of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, was arrested in Belgrade last July after 13 years on the run.



Prosecutors are seeking to prove that he was the political force behind the massacre of almost 8,000 Bosniak men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995. He is also charged with a second count of genocide in relation to crimes committed in ten municipalities across Bosnia between March and December 1992.



Karadzic is further indicted for the 44-month campaign of sniping and shelling on the city of Sarajevo, which resulted in nearly 12,000 civilian deaths.



The indictment – which lists 11 counts in total – alleges his responsibility for crimes of persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.



As he has in the past, Karadzic complained that the Hague tribunal was not providing him with enough money or resources for self representation. He warned that his trial would be “far greater than any before it”.



“The [prosecution] complains they don’t have enough [resources], [but] imagine what it’s like for me!” he exclaimed. “I can’t make my team with minor players, and I can’t accept any other representation than myself.”



Judge Bonomy reminded him that there was a full system of representation in which Karadzic was choosing not to participate.



He added that the bench had been willing to consider an arrangment in which Karadzic was represented by lawyers, but still played a role in the proceedings.



“You’ve refused,” said the judge.



Karadzic insisted that he would continue to represent himself, and told Judge Bonomy that he and his advisors were planning to submit a new motion regarding the agreement he claims to have made with the United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke in 1996.



Karadzic told the court that he had recently received new and “convincing” evidence to bolster his claims that Holbrooke offered him immunity from prosecution if he left public office in Republika Srpska. Holbrooke has denied the allegations.



The accused filed a motion on August 6 of last year challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal, and judges ruled last December that such an immunity deal would not be valid for individuals charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.



That decision is currently under appeal.



Judge Bonomy said that because Karadzic planned to file a new motion on the matter, he would regard the August 6 motion as withdrawn.



The judge added that he would not set a time limit for filing the new motion until the appeal was decided.



Towards the end of the conference, an agitated Karadzic lashed out at the prosecution for “terrorising” his family and friends.



The prosecution, he said, was “instructing authorities” in Bosnia to search the homes of various friends and family members for key documents.



“This is an attempt to seize my evidence!” he proclaimed. He then asked the judges to “order that these documents be protected”.



After listening calmly, Judge Bonomy told Karadzic that the points he made “don’t indicate illegal conduct”.



The judge instructed Karadzic to file a formal motion with a “specific complaint” if he wanted the matter addressed further.



“With pleasure I will file [a motion],” responded Karadzic. “The prosecution is obstructing my defence, disturbing my family and taking away documents!”



Judge Bonomy ended the conference by stating that the prosecution should disclose all witness statements – save those from experts – by May 7.



The prosecution’s final pretrial brief will be filed on May 18, with additional exhibits filed by May 25.



There will be another status conference in about a month, said the judge.



Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

Support our journalists