[QODLink]
Europe
Karadzic 'ordered ethnic cleansing'
Prosecution outlines case against former Bosnian Serb leader at war crimes trial.
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2009 11:16 GMT

Al Jazeera's Tim Friend reports on the prosecution's opening of its case against Radovan Karadzic

Prosecutors have branded Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, as "supreme commander" of ethnic cleansing during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

But Karadzic, who faces 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was not in the court in The Hague on Tuesday to hear the prosecution begin to outline its case, boycotting proceedings for a second consecutive day. 

"This case is about that supreme commander, a man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia: Radovan Karadzic," Alan Tieger, the prosecutor, said.

Tieger also quoted Karadzic himself as saying before the war that Serb forces would turn Sarajevo into "a black cauldron, where 300,000 Muslims will die".

"'They will disappear, that people will disappear from the face of the earth'," he quoted Karadzic as saying in an intercepted call.

He said witnesses who survived the deadly 44-month siege of the city would describe living "in constant fear, day after day, for years, knowing that they or their loved ones were targets".

'Widespread crimes'

Parampreet Singh from Human Rights Watch told Al Jazeera the prosecution's use of Karadzic's own words was an interesting way of attempting to prove their case against him. 

"Through the telephone intercepts, through the various internal documents and speeches given in rallies - they're using that information to show ... the extent to which [the prosecution allege] he was in control of devising the policies that led to the widespread commission of crimes against non-Serbs in Bosnia," she said.

In depth


 The charges against Karadzic
 Karadzic: A man of many identities
 Video: Karadzic boycotts trial
 Karadzic: A national hero?
 My brother Radovan Karadzic

Karadzic faces genocide charges over the Sarajevo siege and the massacre of Muslim men and boys at the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, in which about 8,000 people died.

"Radovan Karadzic's forces took Srebrenica in their effort to clean out one of the last significant Muslim presences in the east of Bosnia," Tieger said.

"Over the days that followed, thousands of Muslim men and boys were systematically murdered, the women, children and elderly expelled and the Muslims in Srebrenica eliminated."

Tim Friend, Al Jazeera's correspondent at The Hague, said that the prosecution "feel they have substantial evidence linking Radovan Karadzic to these horrendous events during that bloody war".

"He [the prosecutor] said Karadzic was a man who spread hatred, had no regard for humanity and that his hand was at the helm, that he was in charge when events like Srebrenica took place.

"He [the prosecutor] said he [Karadzic] was in charge, and directly ordered, the siege of Sarajevo, when civilians were deliberately targeted ... and was also responsible, directly, on his orders, for the taking of UN peacekeepers as human hostages against further attack against the Bosnian Serbs."

'Rush to justice'

Karadzic has refused to appear in protest at what he said is a "rush to justice" by the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Karadzic had been posing as a healer when he was caught in Belgrade [EPA]

O-Gon Kwon, the presiding judge, said that he regretted Karadzic's decision not to attend the hearing, and said the court would consider imposing a lawyer to represent him if he continues to boycott proceedings.

Judge O-Gon said he had warned Karadzic he must accept the consequences of refusing to be at his trial and that the court will decide how to proceed next week.

"Should the accused maintain his absence from the proceedings on Monday there will be a hearing on Tuesday, November 3, at which the chamber will hear oral submissions" on how to proceed, he said.

The court will not sit again until Monday.

Karadzic has opted to defend himself in the trial despite having no legal background and says he needs more time to prepare his defence.

He has repeatedly refused to enter pleas, but insists he is innocent.

'Criminal enterprise'

According to the charge sheet, he stands accused of having "participated in an overarching joint criminal enterprise to permanently remove Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat inhabitants from the territories of Bosnia-Hercegovina claimed as Bosnian Serb territory".

His trial is expected to last for up to two years and he faces a maximum sentence of life in jail if convicted.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade last July after 13 years on the run.

He had been posing as a New Age healer named Dr Dragan Dabic, and had disguised himself with thick glasses, a bushy beard and straggly grey hair.

Prosecutors had wanted to try Karadzic alongside his wartime military chief, General Ratko Mladic, but he has yet to be caught.

He is one of two suspects still sought by the court, the other being Goran Hadzic, a former leader of Serb fighters in Croatia.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Thousands of Houthi supporters have called for the fall of Yemen's government. But what do the Houthis really want?
New ration reductions and movement restrictions have refugees from Myanmar anxious about their future in Thailand.
US lawyers say poor translations of election materials disenfranchise Native voters.
US drones in Pakistan have killed thousands since 2004. How have leaders defended or decried these deadly planes?
join our mailing list