Karadzic wants his war crimes indictment trimmed

29/01/2009

Claiming that the UN prosecutors' new war crimes indictment against him sets the stage for a "mega-trial" that could drag on for years, Radovan Karadzic requested on Wednesday a reduction in the number of charges.

(AP, B92, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia -- 28/01/09)

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In a motion published on Wednesday (January 28th), former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic argued that his indictment should be further amended. [Getty Images]

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic asked judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Wednesday (January 28th) to reduce his indictment to avoid a lengthy trial.

"To prepare for and conduct a trial on such wide ranging charges will take years and years," he argued in response to UN prosecutors' motion to further amend his first amended indictment of May 2000.

Police arrested Karadzic in Belgrade on July 21st 2008, nearly 13 years after UN prosecutors first charged him with genocide and war crimes stemming from the 1992-1995 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Seeking to ensure a swifter presentation of their case against Karadzic, UN prosecutors decided to streamline the indictment that was in force at the time of his transfer to The Hague at the end of July.

As in that version, the one filed on September 22nd again contains 11 -- but now restructured -- counts of war crimes. It includes two charges of genocide. But the new version is narrower in terms of both the scope of war crimes Karadzic allegedly helped commit and the number of crime sites, which shrank from 41 to 27.

The UN court would thus have to call fewer witnesses, making it easier to meet its 2010 deadline for completing all cases.

Describing the indictment of 2000 as "amorphous", Karadzic said the latest one is "not much better".

The Trial Chamber, he suggested, should "grant leave to amend only parts of the proposed amended indictment at this time, reserving its decision on the other parts until after final judgement".

Denying any wrongdoing, Karadzic categorically rejected the charges brought against him by chief UN war crimes prosecutor Serge Brammertz's team.

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"Neither he [Karadzic] nor the Republika Srpska ever had the objective of expelling or killing Bosnian Muslims or Croats, or of destroying the Bosnian Muslims, as a group, in whole or in part," he wrote Wednesday.

He drew a parallel between his case and that of Slobodan Milosevic. The former Yugoslav president faced a 66-count indictment over a four-year trial before dying of a heart attack in March 2006.

Although the newly proposed indictment is generally much narrower than the one against his former political mentor, Karadzic claimed it set the stage for a "mega-trial" that would drag on for years.

"This is the tribunal's first and best opportunity to demonstrate that it has learned the lessons of the Milosevic trial," he said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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