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The war-crimes tribunal at The Hague has announced that it will move forward with the trial of former Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic as planned on Monday, despite Mr. Karadzic's stated intention to boycott proceedings.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, a court of the United Nations, is anxious to move ahead with the charges against Karadzic, who is the most high-profile defendant currently appearing before the court, the Financial Times reports. Karadzic's trial is scheduled to begin on Oct. 26.
Tribunal judges yesterday decided to proceed with Monday's hearing, in a sign that they might compel Mr Karadzic to attend and appoint him a counsel to keep the trial moving. ...
Serge Brammertz, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, rejected suggestions that Mr Karadzic might need more time, noting the gusto with which the defendant had submitted motions during the pre-trial phase. He hopes the trial will end by 2012, with appeals taking it to 2013. Since the tribunal's mandate is ending, time is a precious commodity and Mr Brammertz has "streamlined" the indictment to expedite the hearings.
According to a tribunal press release, Karadzic faces two charges of genocide and a "multitude" of other crimes against Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat, and other non-Serb civilians during the 1992-95 war.
The indictment alleges that Karadžić committed genocide when forces under his command killed non-Serbs during and after attacks on towns in more than a dozen Bosnian municipalities in the early stages of the war. After these attacks, Bosnian Serb forces rounded up tens of thousands of non-Serbs and transferred them to more than 20 detention facilities. The indictment alleges that forces under Karadžić's command tortured, mistreated, sexually assaulted and killed non-Serbs in these camps.
Karadžić also stands accused of genocide for the murder of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men in Srebrenica in July 1995. The indictment states that on 8 March 1995, Karadžić instructed Bosnian Serb forces under his command to create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival for the inhabitants of Srebrenica, amongst other places.
"This process is not ready to start, simply because the defence was not granted sufficient time and resources to prepare," Karadzic said in a letter to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
"Therefore I shall not appear before you on that date."
Reuters adds that the tribunal last week denied Karadzic's motion – one of 270 that he has made since his transfer to The Hague's detention center last year - for a ten-month delay before the start of the trial.
Although the tribunal can not try Karadzic in absentia, it could still move ahead with a lawyer standing in for him, though Karadzic is likely to refuse such an option, The New York Times writes. The Times notes that delaying tactics have been used by several other Serbian leaders charged with war crimes by The Hague – most notably former Yugoslavian and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died of natural causes in 2006 while his trial was still going on.
Such delays, along with other frustrations, have spurred some Bosnians to criticize the tribunal, the Telegraph reports.
Some Bosnian Muslims are dissatisified by the failure of the west to impose adequate sentences on their principal tormentors, or conduct their trials in timely fashion. The former Bosnian Serb president Biljana Plavsic is soon to be released from jail after serving just two-thirds of an 11-year sentence for war crimes.
The ICTY has indicted 161 people for war crimes, of which 120 have been dealt with. Only [General Ratko] Mladic, who is also accused of genocide, and Goran Hadzic, one-time leader of the self-proclaimed Republic of Serb Krajina, are still at large.