Hague: Karadžić begins defense

THE HAGUE -- Former political leader of Serbs in Bosnia Radovan Karadžić begins his defense before the Hague Tribunal on Monday.

Karadžić at the Hague today (Beta)
Karadžić at the Hague today (Beta)

Karadžić, who is defending himself, will have two days for his opening statement, which is the same amount of time the prosecution had on October 26, when the trial began.

Karadžić addressed the judges today to say that we will not defend himself by deflecting guilt on others, stating that he has “good evidence”.

He said that he will not be defending himself, but the “greatness” of the Serb people that “fought for survival for 500 years” in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“We will prove that there was no thought, much less a plan for getting rid of the Muslims,” Karadžić said.

He said that the goal of the Bosnian Serbs was not to create a Greater Serbia, like the indictment suggests, but to preserve Yugoslavia.

“The RS was created out of necessity and that was very painful,” he said.

Karadžić said that the Bosnian Serbs were ready to accept an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina, if a ”constitutive Serbia entity” was guaranteed for them.

He accused the Party of Democratic Actions (SDA) for leading “war policies” to the advantage of Muslims and disadvantage of the “Christian majority of Serbs and Croats.”

His legal advisor Goran Petronijević said that Karadžić will be using both days for his opening statement.

“Karadžić will speak for three hours each day. The opening statement will give direction to the defense. There was little time to prepare, we asked the trial chamber for additional time to prepare the defense,” he said.

If the demand for more time is not approved, the trial will continue with the prosecution’s first witness on March 3.

The opening statement will also be attended by the defense attorney that the Tribunal appointed to Karadžić’s case, Richard Harvey, though Petronijević said that his role will be minimal.

In the prosecution’s opening statement, it was said that Karadžić was the chief commander of the army that committed ethnic cleansing against Muslims and Croats in large portions of Bosnia, and terrorized civilians in Sarajevo, along with committing genocide against 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica.

He is accused of committing ethnic cleansing against Muslims and Croats in between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a campaign of terror against civilians in the Sarajevo campaign during the same period, taking UN officials hostage in May and June 1995, and the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.