Karadzic led ethnic cleansing agaisnt Bosnian Muslims: UN prosecutors

Karadzic led a campaign to make Bosnian Muslims "disappear from the face of the earth" and carve out a mono-ethnic state for Bosnian Serbs, war crimes prosecutors told a U.N. tribunal.

Karadzic led ethnic cleansing agaisnt Bosnian Muslims: UN prosecutors


Radovan Karadzic led a campaign to make Bosnian Muslims "disappear from the face of the earth" and carve out a mono-ethnic state for Bosnian Serbs, war crimes prosecutors told a U.N. tribunal on Tuesday.

In opening statements, prosecutors painted a picture of the former Bosnian Serb leader as a supreme commander single-mindedly pursing a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" during the 1992-95 Bosnian war.

Their statements were delivered to empty chairs on the defendant's side of the court as Karadzic boycotted the trial for a second day.

"The Supreme Commander explained in October 1991 what was coming for Sarajevo: 'Sarajevo will be a black cauldron where Muslims will die. They will disappear, that people will disappear from the face of the earth'," Prosecutor Alan Tieger cited Karadzic as saying.

He was referring to the 43-month siege of Sarajevo that began in 1992 and killed an estimated 10,000.

The break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s saw Serbs attacked on Muslims and Croats who declared an independency. More than 100,000 people were killed, most of them Muslims.

"The supreme commander had directed his forces in a campaign to carve out a mono-ethnic state within his multi-ethnic country," Tieger said, calling him a "hands-on leader who maintained direct contact".

"This case, your honours, is about that supreme commander. A man who harnessed the forces of nationalism, hatred and fear to implement his vision of an ethnically separated Bosnia -- Radovan Karadzic."

Karadzic, 64, has denied 11 war crimes charges arising from the violent break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, including two genocide charges for the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica and for broader atrocities.

As prosecutors began their case on Tuesday, Biljana Plavsic, Karadzic's successor as Bosnian Serb president, left a Swedish prison and arrived in Belgrade after winning early release from her sentence for committing war crimes.

Karadzic had tried to concieve judges during pre-trial proceedings, seeking immunity and more time to prepare for trial, which was denied as judges pressed forward with plans to begin the trial.

Karadzic is the court's highest profile defendant since the trial of ex-Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, whose trial ended with his death in 2006.

Ahead of opening statements, Judge O-Gon Kwon issued another warning to Karadzic to appear in the courtroom at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, or risk having counsel assigned to him and being tried in absentia.

"Should the accused persist in his refusal to attend the trial ... the trial will proceed in his absence, and counsel will be assigned," the South Korean judge said, adding the court would make its decision after the prosecution's opening remarks end next Monday.

"(The accused) has chosen the course and must accept the consequences that will inevitably flow from the choice," Kwon said, adding that although self-representation for an accused is a fundamental right, it is not an "absolute" right.

The battle of wills at the start of the trial had echoes of the trial of Milosevic, who obstructed proceedings to buy time and gain concessions from the court.

The complex trial of Karadzic is expected to last years and involve hundreds of witnesses. There are more than 1 million pages of prosecution documents.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Ekim 2009, 08:18
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