The Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic goes on trial today in the Hague for alleged war crimes committed during the civil war in Bosnia in the early 1990s. Here’s the latest from ANSAmed:
ICTY: Karadzic Claims Cause ‘Just and Holy’
THE HAGUE, MARCH 1 – On his arrival this morning in the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) – where the trial has resumed in which he is accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic claimed he had acted as defender of the Serbian population in Bosnia, fighting for a “just and holy” cause, and that he had been the defender of “the greatness of a small nation in Bosnia-Herzegovina that had suffered for 500 years”. For the first time before ICTY judges, today Karadzic, 64, will be presenting the outlines of the line of defense he will be taking against charges of “ethnic cleansing” during the war in Bosnia. (ANSAmed).
Mr. Karadzic was the first president of the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic) in Bosnia, which was formed in 1992 when Yugoslavia broke up. After war crimes charges were filed against him by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1996, Mr. Karadzic went underground and was a fugitive for twelve years.
Background information on Radovan Karadzic (caveat: Wikipedia) may be found here. For the MSM take on him, see The New York Times or PBS. For an alternative point of view, read the news story from today’s Serbianna. Also, here’s a news story about his arrest from the summer of 2008.
As is usual with Slavic matters, one of the best places to keep up with the progress of the Karadzic trial will be at Natalie’s place. She has posted some preliminary background information about the trial, including a list of FAQs with their answers. Some excerpts are below:
Karadzic Trial: An Introductory Guide
A very important event is starting tomorrow, an event that the vast majority of Americans probably do not know about. It is the trial of Dr. Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb president. Dr. Karadzic’s trial is extremely important. He is a former world leader being tried for crimes that he is not guilty of.
I have prepared this introductory guide to Dr. Karadzic’s trial so that readers can learn more about this grave miscarriage of justice.
Watching the trial
Anyone can watch the trial. It is broadcast from the ICTY website (with a thirty-minute delay, if I remember correctly) in an effort to make the tribunal seem more open and legitimate (do not be fooled; it is neither legitimate nor open). The schedule of courtroom appearances is here. If you intend to watch something, be sure to check the schedule—I have seen trial times shifted around even at the last minute. To watch the streaming video or hear the audio, go to the homepage and click on the video or audio links in the left sidebar. Note that there are three courtrooms, which often have cases going on simultaneously. Finally, do not forget about the time difference. The times listed on the schedule are Netherlands time, which is six hours ahead of Eastern Time in the United States.
Why was the trial delayed?
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Regular readers will recall that the trial was supposed to start in fall of 2009. It did not because Dr. Karadzic said that he did not have enough time to properly prepare his defense. He even boycotted his court appearances. The tribunal eventually moved the start date later to the beginning of March, but forced court-appointed counsel on him. And, in typical poor taste, the tribunal withheld payment from Dr. Karadzic’s legal team (I confirmed this story with a member of the team). As far as I can tell, Dr. Karadzic does intend to make his opening statement in court on March 1 and March 2, though he wanted the trial postponed to June.
What charges does Dr. Karadzic face?
He faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Counts 1 and 2 concern genocide against Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats. Count 3 concerns persecutions against Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims on political and/or religious grounds. Counts 4, 5, and 6 concern extermination and murder, especially the killing of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica and killing of civilians in Sarajevo. Counts 7 and 8 concern deportation and inhuman acts. Counts 9 and 10 concern terror and unlawful acts against civilians. Count 11 concerns the taking of UN military observers as hostages. (Thanks to the BBC for a summary of the charges.)
Read the rest at Birdbrain, including Natalie’s predictions about Mr. Karadzic’s defense, and his prospects for acquittal.
Hat tip for the ANSAmed story: Insubria.