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Karadzic Warns of Mega-Trial

Ex-Bosnian Serb leader argues that revised charges against him are still too broad.
By Simon Jennings
Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic has told judges at the Hague tribunal that the wide scope of the proposed case against him will lead to “a mega-trial”.



In a submission filed this week, he also denied the prosecution’s allegations, saying that neither he nor his Bosnian Serb government intended to kill or drive Bosniaks or Croats out of Bosnia and that it was not his goal to destroy the Bosniaks as an ethnic group.



According to an amended indictment against him, which has not yet been approved by judges, between October 1991 and November 1995, Karadzic “significantly contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian-Serb claimed territory”.



Prosecutors are seeking to charge Karadzic with eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including two separate counts of genocide.



In updating the previous version of the indictment, which dates back to April 2000, they have reduced the number of municipalities where it is alleged Karadzic committed crimes from 41 to 27.



In spite of this reduction, Karadzic expressed concern that he would not have time to prepare an effective defence.



“To prepare for and conduct a trial on such wide-ranging charges will take years and years,” he wrote to judges on January 28.



He cited other defendants at the tribunal who had gone on trial for similar crimes and emphasised the time given to them to prepare a defence.



His former political colleague Bosnian Serb Assembly Speaker Momcilo Krajisnik was given three years and 10 months to prepare his defence while Bosnian Serb politician Radoslav Brdjanin was allotted two and half years.



“If it grants leave to amend the indictment in its present form, the trial chamber must provide Dr Karadzic with adequate time to prepare for one of the most complex, wide-ranging trials in history, and then spend many years holding a mega-trial on the prosecutor's indictment,” Karadzic informed the judges.



Simon Jennings is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.