Page last updated at 16:31 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

Court imposes lawyer on Karadzic

Radovan Karadzic at The Hague on 3 November 2009
Radovan Karadzic faces 11 war crimes charges, including genocide

The UN's Yugoslav war crimes court has appointed a lawyer to represent ex-Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic whenever he fails to appear in court.

It also adjourned his trial to 1 March to give his counsel time to prepare.

Mr Karadzic - who has been representing himself - appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday after boycotting the start of the trial last week.

He insists he is innocent of all 11 war crimes charges from the 1992-95 Bosnian war, but has refused to enter pleas.

Mr Karadzic, 64, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Army commander

"The accused's conduct has effectively brought the trial to a halt, which is evidently his purpose," a court statement said, AFP news agency reported.

Peter Biles
Peter Biles, BBC News
Mr Karadzic will feel he has been partially successful in his demand for more time in which to prepare for his trial. But the judges have done what they threatened to do after hearing submissions from him and the prosecution team. They have imposed a counsel to assist him.

They have also made it clear that if Mr Karadzic continues to obstruct the trial's progress, he will forfeit his right to self-representation, and the appointed counsel will take over.

It was almost inevitable that the appointment of a defence lawyer would result in a further postponement. The tribunal has made a concession by, in effect, giving Mr Karadzic nearly four more months, but the judges will also be keen to avoid a repeat of the delays that occurred during Slobodan Milosevic's trial from 2002.

It ordered the court registry to appoint counsel to represent Mr Karadzic's interests when the trial resumes, "if that should be required", stating that he would still "continue to represent himself including by dealing with the day-to-day matters."

Mr Karadzic has seven days to apply for permission to appeal.

At Tuesday's hearing, he argued that he had insufficient time to prepare his defence and sought a 10-month adjournment.

But presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon dismissed the claim, saying the court had already determined the defendant had had ample time to prepare.

Mr Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008, after nearly 13 years on the run.

During his time in power, Mr Karadzic was president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb republic, and commander of its army during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict, which left more than 100,000 people dead.

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

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

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

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

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

The Bosniak people - most of them Muslims - are descended from Bosnian Slavs who adopted Islam under Ottoman Turkish rule in the Middle Ages.

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