War crimes tribunal: The Karadzic calamity
Hague prosecutors red-faced after Bosnian Serb leader rejects outdated charge sheet
Sunday 03 August 2008
The fugitive Radovan Karadzic had been on their most-wanted list for more than a decade, so you'd have thought that the international war crimes prosecutors would have had their case against the former Bosnian Serb leader honed, right down to the dotting of the last "i".
Instead, at Mr Karadzic's first hearing at The Hague last week, an eight-year-old indictment was presented, 25 pages that the court was informed would need updating. "I cannot give you a date, but it will be as soon as possible," said the chief prosecutor, Serge Brammertz.
True, Mr Brammertz only took over the role in January. But his predecessor, the bombastic Carla del Ponte, would tell anyone who'd listen that the only thing allowing Mr Karadzic to stay hidden was the Serbian government's apathy. So when the wheels of power began to turn in Belgrade, shouldn't the prosecutors have been making sure they were ready to roll with Case IT-95-5/18?
Mr Karadzic – shorn of the beard and topknot of his spiritual healer disguise, and a gaunter version of his swaggering military self – declined to enter a plea. "I would rather receive the new indictment... and have sufficient time to study it and then have my initial appearance for that and enter my plea," he said.
Antonio Cassese, a former chief judge at the court, said: "Of course it's a waste of time, and they should have amended the indictment before." However, streamlining the indictment and narrowing the scope of the prosecution would ultimately speed up the whole process, he added.
Speed is something of which the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal is acutely aware. Its biggest fish, Slobodan Milosevic, used every stalling tactic in the book to drag out his trial for four years, and died of a heart attack before a verdict could be reached.
Mr Karadzic – the alleged mastermind of the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo – is to represent himself, as did his former mentor. But observers saw encouraging signs from Judge Alphons Orie that he would not allow this right to be used as a pretext for lengthy invective. He refused Mr Karadzic's request to read a four-page statement, but allowed him a two-minute summary. Mr Karadzic submitted his statement on Friday, repeating his claim that the US peacebroker, Richard Holbrooke, had cut a deal for him to go underground. But when that agreement began to unravel, Mr Holbrooke "switched to Plan B – the liquidation of Radovan Karadzic".
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Chef is required to join one of the largest ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is required to jo...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...