Victims outraged at Karadzic adjournment

28 October 2009 by Sebastiaan Gottlieb

Few people expected Radovan Karadzic to show up to the start of his trial on Monday. He had already announced his intention not to attend a few days earlier in a written submission to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The former President of the Serb Republic in Bosnia stayed away to protest the fact that he hadn't been given more time to prepare his case. The pre-trial and appeals chambers rejected his request for a 10-month postponement earlier this month.

As he opened the trial in Courtroom 1 of the ICTY, Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon saw only empty seats where the defence team should be and quickly decided to adjourn the trial until the next day. ”We will start with reading the opening statement,” he said, “and we request Mr. Karadzic to attend, so that his trial is not further obstructed.”

Judging by his gentle approach, Kwon is hoping to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict with Karadzic.

This could be because of what has been until now a cooperative relationship between Karadzic and the tribunal. This is in stark contrast to the earlier trials of the late Slobodan Milosevic and enfant terrible Vojislav Seselj, who made obstructing and frustrating the tribunal their primary business. Kwon’s good faith in Karadzic may also come from a letter the defendant sent to the court stating that he “will never boycott his own trial” and hoping the court would find “a fair solution.”

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