Radovan Karadzic's defense strategy, as became apparent at the status conference today, is to use every opportunity to drag the proceedings on, hoping that the Tribunal will be closed down before his trial finishes or even before it starts. Karadzic's indictment against Holbrooke was today amended to include new accusations against the Contact Group and Security Council

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

At the status conference today, Karadzic accused the prosecution several times of wanting to 'rush and muddle through' his case. It is now quite clear what his defense strategy will be. He will use every opportunity to delay proceedings in hope that the Tribunal will close down before the end of his trial, or even its start. Karadzic faces charges of genocide and other crimes in BH from 1992 to 1995.

According to Karadzic, the 'rushing' is reflected in the fact that the first status conference was held less than three weeks after his second appearance before the court on 29 August 2008. The usual period is 120 days. Karadzic went on to ask the Trial Chamber not to be hasty with its decision on his motion on the immunity agreement allegedly agreed with Holbrooke. Karadzic would like the Trial Chamber to suspend its decision until he has completed his 'comprehensive investigation' aimed at proving that all members of the Contact Group had granted him immunity from criminal prosecution, not only the USA. Karadzic also stressed that those countries were permanent members of the Security Council. He found 'irrefutable evidence' that NATO had tried to liquidate him, he said, and the Trial Chamber should also take that into account when deliberating on his motion.

Judge Bonomy then brought up what he called a 'legal issue', saying that even if everything Karadzic claimed were true, 'it should not have any bearing on the proceedings before this court'. Karadzic remained unconvinced, repeatedly stating that 'Holbrooke did everything he did on behalf of the Contact Group and the Security Council'. In Karadzic's words, this is a 'fundamental issue'.

Karadzic is adamant that as far as he is concerned the amended indictment – the prosecution indicated it would file it next Monday at the latest – is ‘a completely new indictment’. Karadzic insists he should be given ‘a new start’: he should be given an opportunity to enter his plea within 30 days, and to file preliminary motions. This is further proof of his stalling strategy.

Noting that the prosecution brought up the ‘meager resources available to the translation service’ in its reply to Karadzic's request to be provided with the trial transcripts translated into Serbian, Karadzic offered his solution. 'If the resources are scarce for such a huge case’, Karadzic said, ‘then the question is whether the shop can afford to remain in business. In our parts and everywhere else, when there’s no money left, the shops have to close down’.

At the beginning of the status conference today, Judge Bonomy warned Karadzic about the possible repercussions of self-representation, noting that there were cases before the Tribunal where the accused played an active role in their defense despite the fact that they had professional lawyers representing them. The judge urged Karadzic to think it over. ‘I must have the defense in my own hands in order to establish the truth about our conflict', Karadzic replied. He added that he was not here to defend himself, but 'the people who have suffered a lot and civilian heads of smaller states NATO will target after his trial”. The trial of the civilian head of state is “a precedent', Karadzic noted.

Judge Bonomy then warned the accused that his responsibility to secure ‘the best possible defense’ is even greater because he sees himself as a 'representative of nations and heads of states'. Karadzic was not to be swayed.

The next status conference will be scheduled after the prosecutor has filed the amended indictment against the former 'civilian head of a small state'.