Karadzic 'forecast 300,000 Muslim deaths'

UN prosecutors opened their genocide case against Radovan Karadzic today - despite his continued boycott of the case - calling him the "undisputed leader" of Serbs responsible for atrocities throughout Bosnia's brutal four-year war.

Yugoslav war crimes tribunal judges ruled that the case could start despite Karadzic's refusal to attend for the second straight day. Karadzic, who is defending himself, claims he has not had enough time to prepare.

With the defendant's chair empty, prosecutor Alan Tieger said Karadzic, "harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to pursue his vision of an ethnically segregated Bosnia."

Dozens of war survivors crowded into the courtroom's public gallery and other rooms set aside for them at the tribunal to watch the trial unfold. As the case began they whispered to one another, but gradually fell silent as Tieger began his opening statement.

Presiding judge O-Gon Kwon said he regretted Karadzic's decision not to attend the hearing and will consider imposing a lawyer to represent him if he continues to boycott the proceedings.

Karadzic faces 11 charges — two genocide counts and nine other war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has refused to enter pleas, but insists he is innocent. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Kwon said he had warned Karadzic he must accept the consequences of refusing to be at his trial. The three-judge panel will decide how to proceed next week after the prosecution finishes its opening statement.

Tieger said some of the evidence against Karadzic would come from the defendant himself, in the form of telephone intercepts and transcripts of his speeches to Bosnian Serb lawmakers during the war. Insiders, international observers and victims of Bosnian Serb crimes that were the bloody hallmark of the 1992-95 war will testify, he said.

He mentioned Biljana Plavsic as one of Karadzic's key collaborators. Earlier Tuesday, Plavsic — the only woman among the 161 people indicted by the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia — was released from a Swedish prison after serving two-thirds of an 11-year sentence for war crimes.

Tieger quoted Karadzic as saying before the war that Serb forces would turn the Bosnian capital Sarajevo into "a black cauldron, where 300,000 Muslims will die." He said witnesses who survived the deadly 44-month siege of the city would describe living "in constant fear, day after day, for years, knowing that they or their loved ones were targets."

The prosecution will call other witnesses from Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb forces murdered more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995, he said. They were "victims who miraculously survived by feigning death" and mothers who "tried in vain to shield their boys from being taken to the killing fields."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Communications Manager

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 6-month part-time contract (24 hours a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Broker

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Vehicle Broker is req...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Data Capture / Telesales

£12000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific