Karadzic to conduct own defence in Hague tribunal

"Karadzic had planned to turn himself in January 2009 because that is when the Hague tribunal is due to stop launching new trials," his brother Karadzic said.

 Karadzic to conduct own defence in Hague tribunal
Radovan Karadzic will conduct his own defence in the Hague tribunal for the war crimes, relatives said on Wednesday.

Karadzic, leader of the Bosnian Serbs in the 1992-95 Bosnia war, was arrested in Serbia on Monday after 11 years on the run.

He was one of three war crimes fugitives from the Yugoslav wars, their arrest a key condition for Serbia to move towards European Union membership. He is currently in a Belgrade prison awaiting extradition, which could come sometime this weekend.

Karadzic's lawyer in Serbia, Svetozar Vujacic, said his client was in good mental and physical condition. He was not talking to investigators, but "defending himself with silence."

"He is going to have a legal team in Serbia but he will be defending himself (without a lawyer) during his trial at The Hague," Vujacic told Reuters.

Karadzic is twice indicted for genocide for the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in the town of Srebrenica in 1995 and for the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. Some 11,000 Muslims died in the city from sniper fire, mortar attacks, starvation and illness.

Karadzic had wanted Serb areas of Bosnia to be linked to Serbia and other areas dominated by Serbs at a time when the Slobodan Milosevic, then Serbian president, was fanning nationalism in Serbia.

The former Bosnian Serb leader lived under an assumed name for years and worked as a doctor of alternative medicine. He wore thick glasses and grew a bushy beard and long hair, which he wore in a plaited topknot, to hide his famous face.

"He has asked for a haircut and a shave," Vujacic said. "Today I expect to see him with his hair short and no beard."

Vujacic said he would formally appeal against Karadzic's extradition order on Friday, when a legal deadline expires.

"Planned to turn himself in"

Karadzic's wife and two children have been banned from leaving Bosnia under measures meant to choke off Karadzic's support network. It is up to Bosnia's peace overseer, Miroslav Lajcak, to give them permission to travel to Serbia.

"He had planned to turn himself in January 2009 because that is when the Hague tribunal is due to stop launching new trials," his brother Luka Karadzic said.

The EU has called the arrest "a milestone" on Serbia's road to joining the EU but said Belgrade must go further to reap the full benefits, by arresting Karadzic's military chief Ratko Mladic, who is wanted on the same charges.

Inside Serbia, the reaction has been muted. Government ministers have kept quiet, fearing a backlash from hardline nationalists who see Karadzic and Mladic as "heroes".

But even among nationalists, reaction has been limited to fiery rhetoric about betrayal, with ordinary people weighing the practical benefits of closer EU ties against national pride.

Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Temmuz 2008, 15:55
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