Karadzic Decides to Attend His Genocide Trial After All

November 2, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (C) enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at his initial appearance on July 31, 2008, in The Hague. (Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images )
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic (C) enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at his initial appearance on July 31, 2008, in The Hague. (Jerry Lampen/AFP/Getty Images )
SOFIA, Bulgaria—After boycotting the proceedings of the International Criminal Court in The Hague Oct. 26, due to “lack of time to prepare his defense,” the former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic wrote a letter to judge O-Gon Kwon, saying he will appear in court Nov. 3.

In his letter to the presiding judge, Karadzic said he will not be able to attend the Nov. 2 trial session, but will appear at the status conference the following day. He also expressed hopes for “not only an expeditious trial, but a fair one.”

When Karadzic failed to appear on Oct. 26 the session was adjourned. But the following day the judge decided to proceed with the hearing and warned he would impose a legal representative on Karadzic if he kept boycotting the trial.

Karadzic’s legal advisor in Brussels declared he will reject any counsel imposed on him.

While Karadzic was preparing his defense, prosecutors in the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) made their remarks. "This case is about that supreme commander, a man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred, and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia: Radovan Karadzic," said prosecutor Alain Tieger, as quoted by the BBC.

Karadzic, 64, will defend himself in the trial and has rejected all the charges. If proven guilty, he will face life imprisonment.

Fourteen years after the end of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Karadzic will have to answer for the banishment and extermination of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croatians from the territory of former Bosnia, part of the former Yugoslavia.

According to the indictment, Karadzic is responsible for mass killings in Srebrenica where 7,000 Muslim men were shot in July, 1995, for fire and bombardments in Sarajevo which caused the death of 10,000 citizens, and turned 2.2 million into refugees.

Karadzic, who was arrested on July 21, 2008, after 13 years in hiding, is also accused of inducing about 100 killings of civil men and women in 19 Bosnian municipalities, and for taking hostage 200 U.N. peacekeeping representatives and observers in June, 1995.

Serbia versus Bosnia

The Serbian government insists that the genocide in Bosnia was a civil war. It is well known that during the war, Belgrade helped the Bosnian-Serbs with ammunition, soldiers, and logistics. Serbian president Boris Tadic denies the role of his country as “aggressor” in the conflict.

According to Deutsche Welle [international news broadcaster], Belgrade is afraid that if Karadzic succeeds to present himself as a common participant acting under orders from the Serbian government at that time, Bosnia may renew its claim against Serbia in the International Court and demand compensation amounting to billions of dollars.

The only hope for the casualties’ families is that at least Karadzic will stand before the court and be legally prosecuted.