Karadzic plea entered as 'not guilty' by tribunal
Friday 29 August 2008
The UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia entered a plea of not guilty on behalf of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for war crimes and genocide charges on Friday after he refused to enter one.
At his second plea hearing before his trial for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Karadzic refused to enter pleas for all of the charges against him.
As a result, presiding Judge Iain Bonomy entered a plea of "not guilty" on his behalf for all counts.
Karadzic appeared at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia wearing a dark suit and began by confirming his intent to represent himself.
At his first hearing a month ago, Karadzic refused to enter a plea and instead challenged the court's legitimacy.
The charges against Karadzic, 63, include two of genocide over the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.
The trial is expected to start next year after procedural preparations, and if prosecutors amend Karadzic's 11-count indictment, there could be further plea hearings which would delay the start of the trial.
In his latest submission, Karadzic called the tribunal a "bastardised judicial system", saying it was biased towards finding him guilty and repeating his allegation that the United States was seeking to liquidate him.
Arrested in July in Belgrade with a flowing beard and long hair that disguised him while he worked as an alternative healer, Karadzic appeared for his first pre-trial hearing shorn of the beard and dressed sombrely in a dark suit.
Karadzic has demanded that former U.S. peace mediator Richard Holbrooke and ex-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appear at the tribunal.
At the first hearing after he was extradited to The Hague, he argued that under a secret deal forged more than a decade ago Holbrooke offered him immunity from prosecution if he disappeared after the war.
Karadzic says Holbrooke reneged on the deal and now wants him dead, a claim that the former diplomat has denied repeatedly before and after Karadzic's arrest last month.
Legal experts have drawn parallels between Karadzic's behaviour and that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after he was brought to The Hague in 2001 to face war crimes and genocide charges.
Karadzic would probably try to delay the start of the trial and use it as a platform to give his own views of the conflict, said Andre de Hoogh, an international law lecturer at Groningen University.
At the same time, U.N. prosecutors and judges will seek a speedy trial to avoid lengthy proceeding like the Milosevic trial, which lasted four years and had nearly 300 witnesses before the former Yugoslav leader died in jail in 2006 before the trial could end.
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