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New Judge Assigned to Karadzic Trial

Patrick Robinson steps down as presiding judge following tribunal president appointment.
By Simon Jennings
The Hague tribunal’s new president, Judge Patrick Robinson, who took office this week, has stepped down as presiding judge in the trial of former Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic.

The Jamaican judge has appointed Judge Christoph Flugge of Germany to the bench in his place but it is currently uncertain which of the judges will now preside over the case.

The other judges assigned to Karadzic’s case are Iain Bonomy and Michele Picard. Bonomy is presiding over pre-trial proceedings which are set to resume n January.

Robinson will now sit on the tribunal’s appeals chamber, a shift made under his new role as coordinator of the court’s trials and judicial chambers.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July this year after 13 years on the run. Judges are still set to rule on the prosecution’s request to update the charges against him.

If they grant the amendments to the indictment, Karadzic will be charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including two counts of genocide. Prosecutors hope to secure a conviction for the 1995 massacre of nearly 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica, as well as for acts committed across ten Bosnian municipalities in 1991 and 1992.

In other developments this week, Karadzic asked the new tribunal president to reverse a decision made by the registrar, Hans Holthuis, not allow him to talk directly to the press.

On 16 October, Karadzic requested Holthuis to allow him to meet the journalist, Zvezdana Vukojevic, from the Dutch publication, Revu. Karadzic reasoned his request should be granted because “for many years the prosecutors of this tribunal and others have demonised me in the media without any opportunity for me to present my side of the story”.

But the request was denied on the grounds that meeting a member of the press at the UN Detention Unit where Karadzic is in custody could present a security risk, as well as the possibility of “sensational reporting” which might prejudice the trial and the administration of justice.

Karadzic has asked for the ruling to be reversed claiming that this interpretation of the tribunal’s detention rules constitutes “an unreasonable restriction on the right to freedom of expression”.

Simon Jennings is an IWPR international justice reporter in The Hague.

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