Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Karadzic Judges Set Time-Frame for Defence Case

Defendant requested 600 hours but will get half that, the same as the prosecution.
By Rachel Irwin

Judges at the Hague tribunal this week granted Bosnian Serb wartime president Radovan Karadzic 300 hours to present his upcoming defence case – half the time he had asked for.

The prosecution had 300 hours for its own case, which concluded in May after just over two years of witness testimony. In the end, prosecutors used 299 hours and 27 minutes of their allotted time, the bench noted.

Judges refused Karadzic’s request for 600 hours to present his case, stating in their September 19 decision that he had used more than twice the amount of hours than the prosecution took in cross-examining witnesses, and sometimes went off-topic.

Furthermore, the bench questioned the “relevance and repetitive nature of expected testimony” from his long list of defence witnesses, and concluded that 300 hours was therefore an “appropriate amount of time”.

In other news this week, the initial batch of Karadzic’s defence witnesses was made public.

First to take the stand will be Russian colonel Andrei Demurenko, who was chief-of-staff of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Sarajevo during 1995.

Demurenko previously testified as a defence witness in the trial of Bosnian Serb army general Dragomir Milosevic, who was subsequently sentenced to 29 years in prison for his role in the sniping and shelling campaign against Sarajevo.

The defence case will begin on October 16 with opening statements from the Karadzic, who is representing himself in the courtroom.

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic is responsible for crimes of genocide, 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”.

He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of some 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.