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Karadzic fair trial rights respected - Hague prosecutor
October 20, 2009 / 5:44 PM / 8 years ago

Karadzic fair trial rights respected - Hague prosecutor

By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has had enough time to prepare for his trial over war crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnia conflict, the chief prosecutor for the Yugoslavia tribunal said on Tuesday.

Karadzic is scheduled to go on trial in The Hague on Monday charged with 11 counts of war crimes, including genocide, but has said he had been given insufficient time to prepare.

But Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz said Karadzic, who has filed almost 270 motions on various issues since his transfer to the tribunal’s detention centre, has had 15 months to prepare and his rights have been respected.

The prosecution filed on Monday a shortened indictment to try to avoid an overly long trial. Brammertz said the prosecution would make clear the case was about the victims.

"It is about a plan and execution of a plan to have thousands, ten thousands of people removed from their areas by killing them, by putting them in camps and by rapes, this is the essence of the case," Brammertz said.

"We want the victims to be central to this case."

The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s saw some of the worst atrocities in Europe since World War Two as Serbs, Croats and Muslims fought for territory. More than 100,000 people were killed in warfare and through such policies as "ethnic cleansing".

Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb political leader, is charged with genocide over the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995. He is also charged over the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo by Serb forces.

Karadzic went into hiding from 1996 but was discovered living in Belgrade in July 2008 and extradited to The Hague. His former military commander, General Ratko Mladic, is still a fugitive sought by the war crimes tribunal.

After Karadzic had unsuccessfully tried last week to have the trial delayed for 10 months, his legal adviser Peter Robinson said he is now considering his options.

"It is premature to say he would not appear on 26 October. The options include asking for more time on an ad hoc basis before each witness, boycotting the trial or simply making do," Robinson said.

"I don’t see how the trial can be fair when he has clearly not had adequate time to even read a fraction of the 1.2 million pages of documents disclosed to him by the prosecution -- let alone investigate and prepare."

Asked about the possibility of a boycott, Brammertz said the tribunal rules do not allow trials in absentia and the judge would need to deal with the issue.

"This trial will start -- if it is not on Monday it will be another day," Brammertz said.

Since his arrest, Karadzic has also tried to have charges against him dropped claiming he was promised immunity in a secret deal with former U.S. peace mediator Richard Holbrooke on the condition he left public life. The tribunal has ruled several times against Karadzic’s immunity claims. (Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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