The former Republika Srpska president was supposed to enter his plea on the counts in the new indictment, charging him with double genocide in BH. Instead, there was a debate about whether Karadzic was really defending himself or ‘just pretending’ to do that

Radovan Karadžić u sudnici TribunalaRadovan Karadžić u sudnici Tribunala

Former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic was scheduled to enter his plea on the new amended indictment against him this afternoon. However, Karadzic’s plea was postponed as the prosecution asked the Trial Chamber to review its decision to exclude from the indictment the alleged murder of some 140 prisoners in the Susica camp near Vlasenica.

On Monday, the Trial Chamber granted the prosecution’s motion to amend the indictment against Karadzic, with the exception of three alleged instances of murder, including the murders in Susica; the judges found that the prosecution failed to provide enough supporting material. The prosecution in the meantime established that there was an administrative error in the Susica case, expressing its dismay and desire to correct it. The prosecution therefore filed a formal motion to review the Trial Chamber’s decision.

Judge Bonomy asked the accused to say what he thought about the prosecutor’s motion. This issue is ‘too major for me to be able to present my view without consulting my legal representatives’, Karadzic replied, adding that he had in the meantime received a pile of papers which he had not been able ‘even to leaf through’. This led to a debate about whether Karadzic was really representing himself before the court or was ‘just pretending’ to be doing so because he couldn’t answer a question ‘minor in the overall context of this trial’, as Judge Bonomy put it.

Karadzic then said he would reply to the prosecutor’s motion and was given five days to do it. His plea was postponed pending a final decision on whether the crime base in the indictment would be amended to include the murders in the Susica camp. The Susica crimes were the subject of the first indictment issued by the Tribunal, against the camp commander Dragan Nikolic Jenki in November 1994. Nikolic has since pleaded guilty to numerous killings and instances of torture and abuse and is currently serving his 20-year sentence.

At the status conference today, Judge Bonomy noted that the trial date should be set as soon as possible for the former Bosnian Serb leader. As Judge Bonomy added, ‘the accused is wasting time’, as he has already spent more than six months in the Tribunal’s Detention Unit. In order to expedite the preparations for the trial, the prosecution was ordered to submit ‘an early version’ of its pre-trial brief not later than 30 March 2008. By then the prosecution has to draft an ‘outline’ of the way in which it intends to call evidence on the responsibility of Radovan Karadzic for genocide committed in 1992 and in 1995, and for the crimes of persecution, extermination, killing, deportation, forcible transfer, unlawful attacks against civilians, terror against the residents of Sarajevo, taking more than 200 UN members hostage and using them as human shields in May and June 1995.