www.slobodan-milosevic.org - November 11, 2009

Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


The Trial of former Bosnian-Serb president Radovan Karadzic by the UN war crimes Tribunal in The Hague is a disgrace. It will go down in history with the Stalinist show trials of the Soviet Union and the British Star Chamber.


On September 3rd Karadzic asked the Tribunal to delay the commencement of his trial for ten months so he could prepare his defense. If his request had been granted, his trial would have started on July 3rd 2010. 


The Tribunal denied his request and ordered that the trial commence on October 26, 2009, just one week after the Prosecution filed a “marked-up” version of the indictment.


Radovan Karadzic entered the Tribunal’s custody on July 30, 2008. The October 26th start date only gave him one year and three months to prepare his defense ahead of the trial – which is substantially less preparation time than the Tribunal has allotted to several high-profile non-Serb defendants.


Kosovo-Albanian KLA commander, and former Kosovo Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj had two years to prepare his defense before his trial started. He entered the Tribunal’s custody on March 9, 2005 and his trial began on March 5, 2007.


Ante Gotovina, a high-ranking General in the Croatian military, had two years and three months get ready. He entered the Tribunal’s custody on December 10, 2005 and his trial commenced on March 11, 2008.


The chief of staff of the Bosnian-Muslim military, Rasim Delic, had two years and four months of pretrial preparation time. He entered the Tribunal’s custody on February 28, 2005 and his trial began on July 9, 2007.


There is no explanation, other than anti-Serb discrimination by the Tribunal, why Karadzic shouldn’t be entitled to as much pre-trial preparation time as Delic, Haradinaj, and Gotovina, but he didn’t even ask for that much time. He was more than reasonable in his request, and the Tribunal was totally unreasonable in its refusal to grant it.


If Karadzic’s request for additional time had been granted, he would have had three weeks less preparation time than Haradinaj, three months less than Gotovina, and four months less than Delic. Karadzic could have justifiably asked for even more time since he is facing far more numerous and more serious charges than the Tribunal ever leveled against Delic, Haradinaj, and Gotovina. None of them were accused of genocide.

At least Karadzic fared better than former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic who only got seven and a half months to prepare a defense before his trial started, but that’s just further proof that the Tribunal discriminates against Serbs and extends preferential treatment to non-Serbs. Milosevic entered the Tribunal’s custody on June 29, 2001 and his trial began on February 12, 2002.


The Tribunal’s intransigent refusal to allow Karadzic adequate preparation time forced him to resort to nonviolent civil disobedience. Karadzic has refused to participate in the trial proceedings until his defense is ready.


Rather than acquiescing to Karadzic’s reasonable request for preparation time, and affording him the same preparation time given to high profile non-Serbian defendants like Delic, Haradinaj, and Gotovina, the Tribunal announced that it will further degrade Karadzic’s rights by imposing a defense lawyer on him against his will.


In its November 5th ruling the Tribunal stated that Karadzic had “substantially and persistently obstructed the proper and expeditious conduct of his trial by refusing to attend the proceedings until such time as he considers himself to be ready despite this Chamber’s decision, upheld by the Appeals Chamber, that he has had sufficient time to prepare.”


Article 21 of the Tribunal’s Statute gives an Accused person the minimum guarantee of “adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense”. Unfortunately, it’s the Tribunal that gets to decide what constitutes “adequate”. The Tribunal’s assertion that Karadzic has had adequate preparation time is based solely their assertion that he has. Obviously the Tribunal feels that high profile non-Serbian defendants like Delic, Haradinaj, and Gotovina are entitled to more “adequate” preparation time than high profile Serbian defendants like Karadzic and Milosevic.


In response to Karazic’s so-called “obstruction” the Trial Chamber announced that it was ordering the registrar of the Tribunal to “appoint a counsel [chosen by the Tribunal] to prepare to represent the interests of the Accused”.


The Tribunal adjourned the trial until March 1, 2010 to give the imposed lawyer time to read the “many thousands of pages of documents” they have to acquaint themselves with in order to, as the Tribunal put it, “properly cross-examine the witnesses brought by the prosecution”. For this voluminous task the Tribunal’s ruling said, “The Chamber considers that an appropriate preparation period is three and a half months.”


Even with a delayed start date of March 1, 2010, Karadzic still has substantially less preparation time than Delic, Haradinaj, or Gotovina got. He’ll have three months less than Haradinaj, nine months less than Gotovina, and ten months less than Delic.


If Karadzic refuses to accept the anti-Serbian discrimination that the Tribunal is manifestly subjecting him to, and if he persists in his refusal to attend the trial proceedings until he is given preparation time on par with that afforded to non-Serbian defendants, the tribunal incorporated the following threat into its ruling: “Should the Accused continue to absent himself from the resumed trial proceedings in March, or should he engage in any other conduct that [in the Tribunal’s opinion] obstructs the proper and expeditious conduct of the trial, he will forfeit his right to self-representation, no longer be entitled to assistance from his assigned defense team, and the appointed counsel will take over as an assigned counsel to represent him.”


Karadzic is asking the Tribunal’s Appeals Chamber to overturn the appointment of counsel in his case. If they refuse, his appointed lawyer should understand that he isn’t practicing law on extraterritorial ground in The Hague. He must practice under the authority of the Dutch Bar Association – where no effort will be spared to have him disbarred if he attempts to represent Radovan Karadzic against his will.


The lawyer should also understand that everything he does will be subjected to immense scrutiny. Hundreds of articles will be written about his performance during the trial. Given that he only has three and a half months to prepare, it is very likely that he will be ill prepared for task before him. Every mistake that he makes, or is perceived to have made, will be written about extensively and published for the world to see. If Karadzic is ultimately convicted, the public exposure of mistakes made by his so-called “defense attorney” will be highly damaging to the reputation and financial viability of that lawyer’s legal practice.


The lawyer should also understand that nobody is going to cooperate with him. When the Tribunal attempted to impose a lawyer on Slobodan Milosevic against his will, the defense witnesses boycotted the trial. They refused to testify and the trial ground to a halt. There is no reason to think the Karadzic trial won’t meet the same fate. Any imposed lawyer will have a very difficult task, and he will be criticized severely if he fails to get witnesses to testify for the defense.


Only a defense lawyer who has been bribed by the Tribunal would agree to represent Karadzic against his will. The consequences of trying to represent such a high-profile defendant against their will would be more than any honest lawyer could bear.


The Hague Tribunal is a corrupt kangaroo court; it is manifestly unjust because it discriminates against the people it puts on trial on the basis of their ethnicity. Radovan Karadzic is obviously being denied the preparation time he needs because he is a Serb, while Delic, Haradinaj, and Gotovina all got the time they needed because they’re not Serbs. No effort should be spared in the cause of having The Hague Tribunal shut down, and in having its indictments and verdicts thrown-out.

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