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

Karadzic Trial Resumption Delay

Proceedings to restart at end of month to give defendant extra time to review recently disclosed evidence.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY Courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
    Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY Courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

Judges this week suspended the proceedings against Radovan Karadzic for one additional week, pushing the recommencement date to May 31.

The trial halted on March 21 so that Karadzic, who represents himself, could review thousands of pages recently disclosed to him by the prosecution. It was due to resume on May 23 until the judges’ decision this week.

Last month, Karadzic asked that the trial be put on hold even further, until after the tribunal’s summer recess.

He contended that this was necessary in order to review thousands of additional documents disclosed to him at the end of March, including material he claims is potentially exonerating.

Judges ruled that one additional week was sufficient for review of this particular material, but once again expressed concern about “the way in which the prosecution has approached its disclosure obligations in this case”.

The bench also determined that the prosecution had violated its disclosure obligations in relation to six specific documents, which they determined were indeed potentially exonerating and were not disclosed to the accused “as soon as practicable”.

In other news this week, a brief hearing was held on May 10 with representatives of the Venezuelan government regarding documents the accused requested from that country last November. The material relates to the upcoming testimony of former Venezuelan ambassador Diego Arria, who was also the president of the United Nations Security Council during part of the Bosnian war.

The Venezuelan representatives at the hearing said they needed between three and five months to complete a search for the documents in question. Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said they should submit a progress report by mid August.

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia’s self-declared 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”.

He is 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. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run. After numerous delays, witness testimony in his trial got underway in April 2010.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.