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Karadzic Trial Date Appeal Rejected

Appeal judges dismiss his request to postpone the trial for another ten months.
By Merdijana Sadović
Judges at the Hague tribunal have announced that the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, will start on October 26, after rejecting his request for it to be delayed a further ten months.

Karadzic has repeatedly claimed that he has not had enough time to prepare his defence, but his request has now been dismissed by both the trial chamber and the appeals judges.

At an October 14 press conference in The Hague, the tribunal’s spokesperson, Nerma Jelacic, explained that the appeals chamber “dismissed Karadzic's contention that the trial chamber did not give appropriate consideration to the size and scope of the case against [him], as well as his claim that as a self-represented accused he faced particular difficulties in reviewing the material.

“The appeals chamber noted that Karadzic had a relatively large group of paid and unpaid advisers, and while it may have taken some time to recruit these advisers and they may not be able to work on every trial issue he would wish, these advisers are a source of significant support and their limitations are linked to Karadzic's choice to be self-represented.”

Karadzic is charged with responsibility for the 1995 genocide in Srebrenica, the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo and genocide against Bosniak Muslims and Bosnian Croats across large swathes of Bosnia. The defendant will stand trial for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including persecution, extermination, murder and deportation committed between 1992 and 1995.

Earlier this week, the appeals chamber also rendered its decision on Karadzic's appeal against the court’s decision on the alleged agreement between Karadzic and former United States special envoy to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke. Karadzic maintains that in 1996, Holbrooke agreed to grant him immunity from prosecution in return for standing down from Bosnian Serb politics. Holbrooke has repeatedly denied these claims.

This week, the appeals chamber dismissed Karadzic’s appeal in its entirety, finding that “even if the alleged agreement were proved, it would not limit the jurisdiction of the tribunal, it would not otherwise be binding on the tribunal and it would not trigger the doctrine of abuse of process”.

The appeals chamber, however, added that Karadzic may present evidence supporting the allegations during the course of his trial, which could be considered for the purpose of sentencing.

Merdijana Sadovic is IWPR International Justice/ICTY project manager in Sarajevo.

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