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Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader charged with genocide and war crimes yesterday appeared for the first time in the courtroom of the Hague Tribunal, the same one in which Slobodan Milosevic was on trial. He refused to plead as well as the services of the official lawyer of defense. He said he would make his own defense, that his health was perfect but that he feared for his life in the penitentiary unit at Scheweningen.
‘This is a matter of life or death. If these days Mr. Holbrooke is speaking to be sorry that the Tribunal cannot rule death sentence, should I worry that his hand is so long that his sentence could reach me here? I am concerned for my life and I am also concerned over the speed announced by the prosecutor. The speed is important for a cowboy duel, but is dangerous for the justice. I am concerned if I shall be equal with the Prosecution and if I shall have the possibility for a regular court process’, Karadzic said.
Judge Alfons Ori said that the safety of the suspects in the penitentiary unit is a primary concern of the Tribunal.
At the beginning the summarized indictment was read to Karadzic.
He ignored the Judge’s warning that it is delicate and dangerous that a suspect makes his own defense in such a complex case.
Karadzic complained of the irregularity of his arrest and claimed to have been arrested on Friday and held somewhere before having been taken to the Special Court in Belgrade without given the right to lawyer, telephone call and SMS message to his friends so as not to look for him in hospitals or mortuaries.
He had no complaint over the accommodation in The Hague. ‘I have no objection, I have been in worse places’, he said.
Karadzic was said to have the right to temporary release and that he would be given enough time to prepare his defense.
The Judge offered the indictment to be read to him.
I am not interested that somebody else reads it to me. I would prefer to get the new indictment and time to read it and plead, he said.
The Judge then asked the Chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz if the prosecution was preparing amended indictment. Yes, we intend to amend the indictment within relatively short time, as soon as possible, but we cannot say when the new indictment shall be completed, Brammertz said.
The Judge gave Brammertz 30 days for amendments and scheduled new hearing in the next 30 days regardless whether the new indictment shall be filed or not.
Have you any concerns over your health?, the Judge asked.
My health is perfect, Karadzic replied and that completed his first appearance before the Tribunal.
The former political leader of Bosnian Serbs has been charged with genocide, involvement in genocide, killings, murders, punishments, deportation, inhuman acts and other crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during wars in former Yugoslavia. The indictment contains 11 accounts.
Author: T. N. Đaković | 01.08.2008 , blic online|||Karadzic: I shall make my own defense