Bosnian War Leader On Trial
The small courtroom was packed, a jury, the judge, lawyers and a gallery of people awaiting the commencement of the highly anticipated trial of Radovan Karadzic's. The one thing missing was Karadzic Himself.
Karadzic, 64, the former Bosnian-Serb leader, is charged with two counts of genocide and 9 other counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is the alleged mastermind behind the slaughters throughout Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, the ethnic cleansing campaigns against Muslims, and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica. After being on the run for thirteen years, posing as a New-Age healer, Karadzic was finally arrested July 2008. For the past year he has been working with a team of legal advisors preparing for his trial, where he has chosen to defend himself without a lawyer.
In response to boycotting his trial, Karadzic claimed that he did not have enough time to prepare his defense—although he was indicted in 1995 and after being captured has had 15 months to prepare.
The UN believes his failure to show for trial will foreshadow it's chaotic future. Their prediction seems pretty likely considering the previous trial lasted a meager 15 minutes.
Karadzic has consistently denied entering pleas and has stuck by his claim of innocence. He is facing a maximum life sentence if found guilty for his heinous acts. The case has been projected to last over 300 hours and 200 witnesses are expected to testify.
Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff has appealed to the judges that Karadzic should be required to appoint a defense attorney in order to expedite the trial, whether he wants one or not. The New York Human Rights Watch has responded to this appeal by saying that denying him self-defense could actually backfire in this particular situation.
Of the many survivors who attended the trial in hopes to catch a glimpse of justice, several of them spoke out and expressed betrayal by the judges. They were in disbelief that they would just march out of the courtroom. They believe the trial should have started without him.
Bosnia's current Mayor, Alija Behmen, expressed his dissapointment Monday. He said, "In the name of over 10,000 people killed during the longest siege in the history of warfare ... we have the right to ask for satisfaction, and satisfaction is the punishment of those responsible for the crime."
Karazdic is expected to show up in court sooner or later. The trial will go on without him even if he continues to boycott. As of now, he has kept several people guessing and has left even more disappointed. A former imprisoned Bosnian, Admira Fazlic, shook her head while she remarked, "We are shocked, Radovan Karadzic is making the world and justice look ridiculous. He is joking with everybody."