Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
ICTY trial chamber in the Karadzic case, presided over by Judge O-Gon Kwon (top, middle). (Photo: ICTY)
Hague tribunal judges this week dismissed a request for a retrial made by wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and ordered him to submit a revised list of defence witnesses by September 14.
Karadzic requested a fresh trial on August 13, claiming that the prosecution had committed “numerous” violations of the rules of disclosure and had thereby made the current proceedings unfair. (See Karadzic Requests New Trial.) This week, however, the trial chamber presided over by Judge O-Gon Kwon ruled that the disclosure issues did not damage the defence case to the extent that a retrial would be necessary.
"While the violation of the obligation to share evidence with the defence has put the prosecution in a bad light, the chamber failed to conclude that the accused had suffered damage from this violation", Judge Kwon said at this week’s status conference.
He added that the chamber found that Karadzic’s request for retrial was not "legally founded" and that the trial had been fair from the outset.
One of the issues discussed at this week’s status conference in the case was the defendant’s request to bring 600 defence witnesses and to be granted 300 hours for their testimonies.
The trial chamber told Karadzic, who is representing himself, that he should significantly reduce the number of witnesses he intends to call, and focus only on those who would be able to support his defence case.
The judges told Karadzic it was unnecessary to call on witnesses whose testimonies relate to events in municipalities that are not listed in the indictment against him, such as Bosanski Brod, Bosanska Gradiska, Ljubinje, Kupres, Vakuf and others.
Karadzic replied that he did not agree with this, and that he had "obviously misunderstood parts of or even the entire indictment".
"You are telling me that it's not important for [my defence] to establish the historical context [and] who started the war?” he asked. Since the prosecution insists that the joint criminal enterprise existed since the autumn of 1991, if not even since 1990, it is very important to demonstrate what was really happening [at that time], regardless of whether crimes occurred in these municipalities or not."
Judge Kwon recommended that Karadzic consult with his legal advisors so that he could "understand what was actually meant by the indictment".
This week, Karadzic informed judges that he would probably testify in his own defence, and that he would require 30 hours for that testimony alone.
Judge Kwon replied that a statement by the defendant would "carry more weight if it were delivered at the beginning of the defence case", rather then in the middle of it.
Karadzic replied that his opening statement, for which he will be given 90 minutes, would "not be connected in any way to his actual testimony”.
The judges informed Karadzic that he must submit a revised witness list by September 14. His defence case is to start on October 16.
The prosecution alleges that Karadzic, who was president of Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, 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”, including the planning and overseeing of major crimes such as the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, in which over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed.
Velma Saric is an IWPR-trained reporter in Sarajevo.
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