The trail of Radovan Karadzic, which was due to began today at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has been postponed until tomorrow since he is refusing to appear before the court.
The Prosecution has demanding that Karadzic be present for the beginning of the trial and that the Chamber select counsel for him and not allow him to defend himself, as the former Republika Srpska leader has demanded.
The procedures have been postponed until Tuesday afternoon. This, despite the fact the Tribunal said last week that a delay would probably not be allowed.
“The judges of the International Court have full control over the trials. Trial Chambers are the only competent bodies that can render decisions concerning readiness for the beginning of trials,” said ICTY Spokesperson Nerma Jelacic last week.
Karadzic informed the Trial Chamber last week that he would not appear in court at the beginning of the trial. In his motion for a stay on proceedings, he claimed that he was not ready for the trial and was being “forced and hurried” into it.
“Excellencies, my participation in the trial under the current, obvious circumstances would be my only crime, for which I would deserve to be disdained by war victims and cursed by future generations,” Karadzic wrote in his motion.
It is not clear what can be done if he again refuses to appear before the court tomorrow. The justices would then face a choice between choosing to suspend the trail, impose counsel, or start without him.
Peter Robinson, a Karadzic legal advisor, told reporters that the former Bosnian Serb leader is planning to boycott the trial until he is prepared.
The Prosecution has charged Karadzic with genocide, committed in Srebrenica and ten other Bosnian municipalities, as well as crimes committed in 27 municipalities and “the sniper and shelling campaign in Sarajevo”.
He was arrested in Belgrade on July 21, 2008, after having been on the run for more than a decade.
The Appeals Chamber has rejected his request for a 10-month delay in proceedings, judging the reasons given in his motion for a stay “unconvincing”.
Since its inception 16 years ago, the ICTY has indicted 161 people for war crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Proceedings against 120 individuals have been completed.
Currently, 41 accused are facing proceedngs, with 24 of these cases having reached the trial stage. Seven are awaiting a judgement and 14 cases are before the Appeals chamber.