Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić boycotts genocide trial

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Radovan Karadžić in 1994

The genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić began today at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

Karadžić faces 11 charges, including genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, which relate to the Bosnian War of the 1990s. He denies all of the charges.

Now 64, Karadžić had been in hiding for 13 years before being taken to The Hague for trial, which opened 14 years after the events to which it refers, and is expected to last until 2012. Karadžić announced on Thursday that he did not intend to attend the opening day, and it began without his presence. As he plans to defend himself, the trial could not continue.

Karadžić says he needs more time to prepare, and the trial has been adjourned until tomorrow to allow the judges to consider their options. If Karadžić fails to attend repeatedly, a defence lawyer may be assigned to him in order to allow the trial to continue in his absence.

The start date has been delayed twice, and a request by Karadžić for a further 10-month delay was rejected. He has also attempted to request that the charges be dropped on the grounds that former US mediator Richard Holbrooke offered him immunity in 1996 if he retired from public life. The court rejected this appeal.

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