Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Karadzic defiant at Hague hearing

Mr Karadzic says he has been swamped by court documents

Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has insisted he needs more time to prepare his defence, during his first appearance at his war crimes trial.

Mr Karadzic told a procedural hearing in The Hague that he had not been given the opportunity to go through vast amounts of prosecution documents.

He is representing himself and last week boycotted the start of his trial.

Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon adjourned the trial, saying he would rule later in the week on how it will proceed.

At the start of Tuesday's special hearing, Mr Karadzic said he has been "snowed under" by 1.3 million pages of documents submitted by prosecutors.

I cannot take part in something that has been bad from the start and where my fundamental rights have been violated
Radovan Karadzic

He said he needed another 10 months to prepare his defence.

Judge Kwon replied that the court had already determined the defendant had had ample time to prepare.

"Clearly you disagree with these decisions," the judge added. "However, as I previously stated to you, it is the trial chamber, not an accused person, which determines readiness for trial."

Mr Karadzic said he did not want to boycott proceedings but could not "take part in something that has been bad from the start and where my fundamental rights have been violated".

'Undisputed leader'

Mr Karadzic's trial opened on 26 October, when he failed to appear.

Eleven counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities
Charged over shelling Sarajevo during the city's siege, in which some 12,000 civilians died
Allegedly organised the massacre of up to 8,000 Bosniak men and youths in Srebrenica
Targeted Bosniak and Croat political leaders, intellectuals and professionals
Unlawfully deported and transferred civilians because of national or religious identity
Destroyed homes, businesses and sacred sites

When he again failed to show the following day, the judge said the defendant had chosen not to exercise his right to be present and "must therefore accept the consequences", announcing the trial would proceed in his absence.

Judge Kwon has also said the court is considering imposing a lawyer to represent Mr Karadzic.

The defendant was the president of Republika Srpska, head of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) and commander of the Bosnian Serb Army during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, which left more than 100,000 people dead.

He was indicted in 1995, and faces two charges of genocide and nine more of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

He was taken to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague last year, after 13 years in hiding.

Prosecutors say Mr Karadzic was the leader of an ethnic cleansing campaign in the Bosnian War, calling him the "undisputed leader" of Serbs responsible for carrying out atrocities during the conflict.

Prosecutors have said he is responsible for the Srebrenica massacre, in which up to 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed.

Mr Karadzic has not entered a plea, but is protesting his innocence.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific