Karadzic 'to end tribunal boycott'

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The Independent Online

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will boycott his genocide trial again today but will attend a hearing tomorrow on how to get the case back on track, one of his legal advisers said.

Marko Sladojevic said nothing has changed since last week when Karadzic stayed in his cell to protest what he claims is a lack of time to prepare for the trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Prosecutors continued without him and started outlining their case to the three-judge panel last Tuesday, accusing Karadzic of being "supreme commander" of a Bosnian Serb campaign to eliminate Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territory in Bosnia.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger is scheduled to finish his opening statement this afternoon and is expected to allege that Karadzic masterminded the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, Europe's bloodiest atrocity since World War II.

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

Karadzic's boycott last week frustrated dozens of survivors of the 1992-95 Bosnian war who travelled hundreds of miles by bus last week to see him face justice after 13 years on the run.

Sladojevic said Karadzic would appear in court tomorrow "to help try to find a solution" for the stalemate caused by his boycott.

Judges will discuss imposing a lawyer on Karadzic, who is defending himself.

In a letter to the trial's presiding judge released today by the UN tribunal, Karadzic says he wants to help find "a solution which will lead to not only an expeditious trial, but a fair one."

Karadzic was scheduled to give an opening statement tomorrow, but said in his letter he would do so only "as soon as I am in a position to do so."

He was first indicted in 1995 and was arrested 14 months ago on a Belgrade bus disguised as a New Age healer. Since then, he has been working on his defense in his cell at the tribunal's detention center. However, Karadzic insists he needs up to eight more months to be ready for his trial.