13 April 2010 The genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžic resumed today at a United Nations war crimes tribunal with the start of the prosecution’s case after judges rejected the defendant’s appeal for another delay to the hearing.
Mr. Karadžic, the highest-ranking Bosnian Serb official to be indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), had sought a postponement on the ground that the tribunal’s imposition of a lawyer to represent him had made it impossible for the 64-year-old to prepare for or participate in the trial.
But ICTY appeals judges, sitting in The Hague, rejected that appeal last month and ordered the trial, which began in October last year, to resume today. Opening statements have already been made by both sides, leaving the prosecution case set to begin.
Mr. Karadžic is charged with two counts of genocide and a series of other crimes, including murder, extermination, persecution, deportation and the taking of hostages, related to actions taken against Bosnian Muslims, Bosnian Croats and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995.
The indictment against the former president of Republika Srpska, head of the Serb Democratic Party and supreme commander of the Bosnian Serb army, alleges he is responsible for the murder of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica – supposedly a “safe haven” – in July 1995 in one of the most notorious events of the Balkan wars.
Mr. Karadžic is also accused of being responsible for the shelling and sniping of civilian areas of Sarajevo during a 44-month siege of the city. The trial was halted last November to allow time for a court-appointed counsel to prepare a case for Mr. Karadžic, who was found to have obstructed proceedings by absenting himself from the early days of the trial. The defendant had been given four separate warnings that this would occur if he did not change his conduct.
The former Bosnian Serb leader was arrested in 2008 and transferred to the custody of the ICTY in The Hague after 13 years on the run.
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