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Hague prosecutors red-faced after Bosnian Serb leader rejects outdated charge sheet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 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 3 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 How much sex should I be having?
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Charles Kennedy 1959-2015: A gifted, compassionate politician whose career was cut short by the 'demon drink' - latest news
Ayyan Ali: Pakistan's top model now appears in the courtroom rather than on the catwalk
Isis tortures 14-year-old Syrian boy and films it in graphic video for 'propaganda purposes'
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...
£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...