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Karadzic Wants Trial Hearings in Bosnia and Serbia

Defendant argues that partial relocation would be convenient for hearing witness testimony and foster “greater understanding” of tribunal’s work.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
    Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic has requested that part of his upcoming defence case before the Hague tribunal be heard in Bosnia and Serbia.

In a written request on May 7, Karadzic – who continues to represent himself in court – asked that judges hold three " one-week trial sessions” in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, in Banja Luka, the main city of the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia, and Serbia’s capital Belgrade.

He said he planned to call witnesses who live in these areas as well as “persons who are imprisoned there”.

Holding trial sessions in these cities would, Karadzic argued, “bring the work of the tribunal directly to the people for whom it is intended to benefit, thus fostering a greater understanding of the work of the tribunal by people in the former Yugoslavia”.

In addition, he stated, “it will be convenient for witnesses who will not have to make the journey to The Hague to give testimony or, in the case of incarcerated witnesses, to be transported to The Hague and housed in the detention unit”.

Karadzic’s defence case is due to begin in October 2012. The prosecution rested its case last week after more than two years of witness testimony.

In another development, Karadzic asked for his standby defence counsel Richard Harvey – appointed by judges after the accused boycotted the opening of his trial in 2009 – to be removed from the case on the grounds that “continuation of his mandate is unnecessary”.

Karadzic stated in the May 7 filing that he “fully intends to comply with all the orders and directions of the trial chamber, as he has done throughout the prosecution’s case”.

The prosecution, however, contends that Harvey should stay on.

“Following his objection to the timing of the start of the trial [in October 2009], the accused only began attending and participating in the prosecution’s evidence phase of the trial once standby counsel was in place,” the prosecution stated in its response.

Because of the accused’s boycott, the trial was adjourned for three months so that Harvey had time to prepare.

The prosecution argues that “it cannot be excluded” that Karadzic might pursue “similar tactics” in his defence case, “creating the risk of further delays and adjournments”.

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, who was president of the 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 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. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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