The Hague, 21 October 2009
Despite the fact that I consider that I should not be tried by this Tribunal on several grounds, I have, nevertheless, approached the pretrial preparations with great enthusiasm, investing enormous energy and good faith in the whole process. Trusting that the trial process would be exemplary and would be remembered as a model of fair trial that would discover the truth about the events and crisis that took place in my country. I have also approached my defense preparations in an exemplary manner.
Today, having in mind the prematurely set trial date, it seems that my cooperativeness worked against my interests and against justice.
Resultantly, we have now the worst scenario possible, which should have been avoided at all costs – beginning of a process that is not ready to start:
the biggest, most complex, important and sensitive case ever before this Tribunal is about to begin without proper preparation;
process that is supposed to reveal the final truth about our conflict and close an old, and turn a new page in our history;
process that will determine future relations among the people in the region for the following century, perhaps for good;
process that will finally determine many destinies, and justify or reverse an enormous injustice done to many individuals, families and even to whole communities;
process that is of an undoubtedly great importance for the Tribunal itself, because this process will show the real nature of the Tribunal, what it is and what it should be like in the future when prospective civil and military leaders of (small) countries are put to trial;
and all this is happening in unequal, disproportionate and unjust circumstances, where the defense is deprived of an absolute minimum conditions for the preparations that would make the defense a serious and respectable opponent.
Even if the defense had received the relevant case related material on time, and not only in the past five months, it would have needed much more time than the average two years of preparation.
Therefore, taking into account these fundamental “sine qua non” preconditions – this process is not ready to start, simply because the defense was not granted sufficient time and resources to prepare.
The appeals motion filed on my behalf contains sufficient argumentation for the position stated in this submission; hence I do not intend to repeat myself. The defense is faced with an enormous pressure and rush to start the trial for which it is not ready. That is the only truth, which is valid today, tomorrow and will be valid in the future.
The fact that I represent myself cannot and must not have a negative impact on this truth. One cannot say that it is my own fault because I decided to defend myself. Right to self-representation is a legal and legitimate one and it cannot be a source of guilt or punishment for exercising that right in the form of further denial of the rights usually belonging to the defense.
I ask Your Excellencies – why and how is it possible that the prosecution is allowed to literally bury me under a million of pages, only to start disclosing relevant material many months after my arrest? Why and how is it possible that the prosecution is allowed to file its final indictment against me on the eve of the planned trial date?
Is it because of my fault of guilt that my highly estimated and able associates are paid at a minimum, humiliating price?
This is only seemingly correct behavior in accordance with deeply wrong and unjust rules that no one must ever question. How come that the Rules of Procedure, which are a Bible of the trial proceedings, could be changed dozens of times, but on the other hand the rules for the remuneration of work of highly qualified lawyers could not be changed? As if the budget of the Tribunal were the most important of all the facts, and as if everything has to be related to that budget. With all due respect, here I could only think of Kafka, and all this could be explained only by him.
Defense team of the self-represented accused needs more funding rather than less, but even if he is not given more because “he has made his choice”, he certainly should not be given three to five times less funding, and the funding for such poorly paid working hours in the pre-trial period should not be reduced by 50%.
Your Excellencies may not even know about these difficulties, but even the reputable members of some chambers are not averse to the logic of “he has made his choice, so let him suffer”. Justitia persecutoria?
My decision to represent myself was not easy and it is not an expression of a lack of trust in counsel, but rather a belief that the factual situation is so complicated that can only be understood and presented by someone who had actually participated in it from the first day to the last. No counsel, regardless of his qualifications, could successfully defend any accused with regard to the facts of the case.
This is impossible for any attorney, not only because of the complicated events during the four years of the war and a long history of the conflict, but also because of an unprecedented level of prejudices created by the great powers and the media, and because of all the wrongly and incompletely established facts in the trials conducted so far, which now served as adjudicated facts. My decision to represent myself does not deserve punishment, but at least equality, if not support.
Your Excellencies, my entering the proceedings under such circumstances would be my only crime, for which I would deserve contempt of all the victims of the war and a curse of the generations to come.
“The time can not straighten out something that was born crooked”. The words of famous Serbian legislator, Valtazar Bogisic, are entirely appropriate for this situation. If this trial begins under unfair and wrong circumstances, how could it possibly develop or end differently?
Who needs such a haste and a trial that is certainly going to be unfair under these circumstances? What is there to gain except a large stain on our conscience and honor of the participants in that haste, especially the countries supporting that haste – an event of which none of us could be proud, and about which none of us could talk to our grandchildren as an honorable achievement. This trial will form part of the foundations of the international law. The quality of the foundations will determine the quality of the law itself. I cannot believe that anybody wants both the foundations and the law to be rotten.
When and how can one set right this big mistake and all the previous mistakes that, despite the good work by various lawyers, resulted in numerous convictions of completely innocent people and acquittals of direct perpetrators of bloody crimes? In these trials the truth was not established and innocent people were convicted because the accused were unable to participate more significantly, because of the hybrid rules of procedure to which we are not accustomed. For this reason, the newly created and often changed rules of procedure were followed fruitlessly, and the factual part of the case was made completely vague.
I may be wrong, but I still think that it all happened because of the errors in establishing the facts, rather than because of the intentions of the Tribunal and its judges, though it became strange that the outcomes of these trials match the wishes of Serbian enemies, as well as of NATO and great powers which played an active role in wars against the Serbs, and which still support this whole exercise and this great haste in my case.
The Comintern Chief Georgi Dimitrov had the opportunity to defend his truth before Hitler’s Nazi court, and to defend himself in this highly political process, even though the Comintern and Nazi movements were great enemies. At the time, it was very hard to imagine that Dimitrov would be acquitted, but at the end he was acquitted, despite the fact that the indictment was very unfair, because the process was fair. Should I envy Dimitrov on the fair conditions and fair trial? Do I need to remind anyone that I am not Dimitrov, and that the NATO is not a product of Hitlerism, and that it is not, if it is not, in the middle of the process of preparation for the world war, in the same way the Nazism was?
With all due respect for you, and knowing that your roles and positions are not at all comfortable or pleasurable IF you are performing them under political pressure, I think that something in this trial must turn out bad and wrong – either the trial itself or its outcome, that is, the judgment.
If the trial started out wrong, there is no doubt that it would continue to be wrong to the end, and at the end of such a trial, any judgment would look right.
Who would criticize you for convicting me on the basis of a sloppy and unfair trial, in which I did not have an opportunity to defend myself in the best possible way?
If something must turn out wrong, it is in my interest that the trial is as correct as possible, and if the interests of the powers that support this Tribunal require a bad judgment, let the judgment than be wrong, not because of the chances for an appeal, but because of the truth and history.
I assure Your Excellencies once again that no lawyer in this world could prepare defense within this period of time. This trial being the most gigantic should have been given at least the average time for preparation, which is almost two years. Good preparations would save time during the trial, and so the balance of time spent on trial itself and gained with proper and adequate preparations during the pre-trial would be the same. In this way, with regret, with all due respect for you personally and in the belief that a solution can be found for any problem, I hereby inform you that my defense is not ready for my trial that is supposed to begin as scheduled, on the 26th of October, and that therefore I shall not appear before you on that date.
I and the entire my team will continue with the preparations on the most intensive way, and can do it much earlier than any other team or individual. As soon as I will be prepared, I will be happy to inform the Chamber and the OTP a few weeks in advance.
Dr. Radovan Karadzic