Radovan Karadzic has submitted his motion for the disqualification of the Dutch judge Alphons Orie in the pre-trial stage of the proceedings, and has addressed it to the Tribunal’s President. He should have waited until the beginning of the trial and addressed the motion to the president of the Trial Chamber hearing his case

Alphons Orie, judge in the TribunalAlphons Orie, judge in the Tribunal

Former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic asks for the disqualification of Dutch judge Alphons Orie from ‘all pre-trial, trial and any appellate proceedings’ in his case. Judge Orie, Karadzic contends, ‘has a personal interest in this case’. As Karadzic sees it, every ground for Orie’s disqualification is ‘sufficient evidence of a conflict of interest’ which affects the impartiality of the judge.

The Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence allow for a disqualification of a judge from the case; this is however limited to the trial and appellate proceedings. It is not possible to disqualify a judge in the pre-trial stage. The Rules also say that the motion for the disqualification should be addressed to the president of the Trial Chamber hearing the case and not to the President of the Tribunal. Therefore, it is highly likely that Karadzic will have an opportunity to enter his plea on 29 August 2008 before Judge Orie.

In the motion addressed to the Tribunal’s President, Karadzic says that Judge Orie sat in the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, former president of the Bosnian Serb Assembly; there, he imposed a “draconian sentence” on the accused: 27 years in prison. This implies that the Dutch judge might want ‘this sentence to be upheld on appeal’; as Karadzic contends, the judge might do that by proceeding ‘in a biased and partial manner’ in his case.

According to Karadzic, Judge Orie also wants the sentence of Darko Mrdja to be confirmed on appeal. Mrdja pleaded guilty for crimes on Mount Vlasic and got 17 years in prison. Orie also wants the confirmation of judgments in the Brcko and Foca cases, Karadzic claims. Orie was the presiding judge in the case of Stanislav Galic, former VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. Galic’s trial, Karadzic says in his motion, was ‘prejudicial to the accused’. ‘The incredible twists’ at the trial had an impact on Galic’s final sentence, life in prison, Karadzic says.

Karadzic went on to say that Judge Orie was the presiding judge in the Trial Chamber that sentenced Milan Babic after his guilty plea. Babic committed suicide and ‘tragically ended both the trial and the sentence’. Orie also ‘acted unlawfully’ in the Vojislav Seselj case, ‘making the position of the accused more difficult and challenging his rights’. According to Karadzic, actions of Judge Orie in the case against former KLA commanders call for ‘special attention and concern’. The outcome of this trial was ‘incredible’, the accused contends. Haradinaj and Balaj were acquitted on charges of crimes against Serb, Roma and Albanian civilians on Kosovo in the spring and summer of 1998 while Brahimaj was sentenced to six years.

Noting that ‘some circles in America and NATO want him to be liquidated’, Karadzic criticized Judge Orie for ‘not allowing [him] to present convincing arguments about [his] physical safety’ at his initial appearance.