Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Karadzic boycotts first day of war crimes trial

His chair was empty, his headphones lay idle on the desk. In Courtroom One at the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, outraged survivors of Bosnia's bloody war gasped in disbelief yesterday as judges adjourned the opening day of Radovan Karadzic's trial after just 15 minutes.

The former Bosnian Serb leader boycotted his war crimes trial, claiming he did not have enough time to prepare his defence — even though he was indicted in 1995 and had known he would be tried since being captured in Belgrade over 15 months ago.

The tactic forced a one-day delay in the trial and demonstrated that the former psychiatrist was ready for a tumultuous battle of wills with the UN War Crimes Tribunal. Judges adjourned yesterday's hearing but declared that the trial will begin today “with or without” Karadzic.

Karadzic (64) is charged with two counts of genocide and nine more of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prosecutors allege he masterminded Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, from ethnic cleansing campaigns against Muslims and Croats in 1992 to the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

“We expected some kind of justice but there is not any,” said Suada Mugic, a Srebrenica survivor who took a 30-hour bus trip to watch the trial.

“This is very hard and upsetting for us. Everything reminds us of 1995. My husband disappeared, my father and some 23 members of my family.”

She was one of dozens of Bosnian survivors who travelled across Europe to squeeze into the courtroom's small public gallery for the historic trial.

Arrested in July 2008 after 13 years posing as new age healer Dr Dragan Dabic, he has been working with a team of legal advisers for months getting ready for this trial. He intends to defend himself.

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