25 October 2009
Radovan Karadzic trial to start
Tomorrow sees the start of the trial of war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Poet and psychiatrist, convicted embezzler and new age guru, Karadzic was responsible for mass murder and some the most barbaric behaviour in Europe since the Nazis.
According to the Guardian the trial is likely to open with a test of strength. Karadzic insists on defending himself and, after 15 months in detention, maintains he is not ready, having had to plough through around one million pages of prosecution evidence. The judges run the risk of repeating fateful mistakes that handicapped previous big trials, awarding an early psychological victory to the man in the dock.
"Karadzic has learnt the lessons of [earlier] trials and may suspect a lack of confidence on the part of the judges to deal with obstructive tactics," said Sir Geoffrey Nice, the British QC who led the prosecution of the Serbian leader, Slobodan Milosevic. "The judges let Milosevic defend himself. This allowed him to manipulate the system to slow the trial."
Mirko Klarin, who has been chronicling the workings of the court for more than a decade as director of the Sense news agency, believes that the judges have learnt their lessons from past fiascos, and that they may impose defence counsel on Karadzic to try to avoid the trial degenerating into a political circus. "You had a disaster in the Milosevic case, and now you have a looming disaster in the Karadzic case," he said. "The biggest single mistake was letting the accused defend themselves."
Whatever happens, justice must be seen to be done. Whatever he does to obstruct, Karadzic deserves a fair trial (even if he denied that to many thousands of Bosnians).
While it will be good to see him tried and sentenced to rot in prison for the rest of his worthless life, fellow butcher General Ratko Mladic, remains at large...
...Worse still is that Karadzic’s creation, Republika Srpska, born out of genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes, still abides....