Karadzic the lawyer and his advisor Robinson

26 May 2016 by Jesse Wieten in The Hague (The Netherlands)

The trial of former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic is one of the most important proceedings before the ICTY, he was the court's most wanted fugitive for over a decade and highest-ranking Bosnian Serb ever on trial for war crimes and genocide. Even though Karadzic liked to present himself as a lone defendant, acting against the ICTY prosecution machinery, he was closely advised and guided by attorney Peter Robinson. The US counsel reflects on the case that will live on in the legacy of tribunal because of Karadzic's central role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war but also for the marathon effort he made pleading his case as his own lawyer. 

Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on the day of his conviction by the ICTY (Photo; Flickr/ICTY)
Image caption: 
Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic on the day of his conviction by the ICTY (Photo; Flickr/ICTY)

When Karadzic was convicted to forty years in prison for leading an organised campaign of ethnic cleansing, overseeing the 44-month Sarajevo siege and his role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide [IJT-191] in March this year, the first thing he did was turn to Robinson.

Robinson, veteran counsel at the ICTY as well as its sister court for Rwanda, the ICTR, has worked almost daily with Karadzic during the case and formed a close bond. Their cooperation will continue as Robinson was also allowed to represent the Bosnian Serb wartime leader on appeal which will be handled by the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) as the ICTY is due to close its doors next year. But this time around Robinson will be full-fledged legal counsel.

“Karadzic decided not to represent himself on appeal because he understands that the proceedings are legal in nature and conducted in writing, and therefore his knowledge of the facts is not as essential as they were during the trial,” Robinson explained in an e-mail interview with IJT. “In addition, legal aid funds for self-represented accused on appeal are minimal.” A verdict on appeal is expected sometime in 2019.

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