Trial of Radovan Karadžić Concludes

The ICTY in its weekly press briefing reported that the trial of Radovan Karadžić concluded on October 7, 2014, after 497 trial days, and according to the most recent estimate, the judgment is expected to be delivered by the Trial Chamber in October 2015.

The Office of the Prosecutor presented evidence from 336 witnesses of which 195 testified during the trial. The Defence presented evidence from 243 witnesses of which 238 testified during the trial. 6669 exhibits were tendered by OTP, whilst the Defence tendered 4806 exhibits . The Trial Chamber presented 3 exhibits.

Mr. Radovan Karadžić, a founding member of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), former President of SDS, Chairman of the National Security Council of Republika Srpska (RS), President of the three-member Presidency of RS and later the sole President of RS and the Supreme Commander of its armed forces, was first indicted on July 24, 1995 (IT-95-5). In this indictment, confirmed on July 25, 1995, he was charged with genocide and other crimes committed against civilians throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Later that year, on November 14, 1995, the OTP filed a separate indictment (IT-95-18) charging Karadžić with crimes committed during the Srebrenica events in July 1995. This separate indictment was confirmed two days later.

Thirteen years later, in September of 2008, the OTP amended the first indictment, and, among other things, removed the  original charge of complicity in genocide and lowered the number of municipalities in which the accused allegedly committed the crimes. The ICTY confirmed these amendments stating that the removed crimes “were not supported by the evidence.” Lastly, a third amended indictment was filed in February 2009 adding a previously removed incident in the Sušica camp. The third indictment was in October 2009 re-visited and marked-up removing seven additional municipalities and seven out of eight incidents in the eighth municipality. Radovan Karadžić was charged “on the basis of individual criminal responsibility under Art. 7(1) and superior criminal responsibility under Art. 7(3) with genocide, persecutions extermination, murder, deportation, inhuman acts, …, unlawful attacks on civilians, acts of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population, taking hostages….”

The accused was arrested on July 21, 2008 by the Serbian authorities and 9 days later (on July 30, 2008) transferred to the custody of ICTY in the Hague. It took eight months before a plea of not guilty was entered on the accused’s behalf. The trial commenced on October 26, 2009 and concluded nearly 5 years later, on October 7, 2014. Although trials at the international tribunals take longer, this one was prolonged by the non-compliance of the accused who failed to appear on multiple occasions, claimed inadequate time to prepare, and continued to disrupt the proceedings. The Court therefore held a hearing and on November 5, 2009 issued a decision in which the Court found that the accused had “substantially and persistently obstructed the proper and expeditious conduct of his trial,” thereby meeting the test for appointment of counsel set out by the Appeals Chamber. The Registrar was ordered to appoint a counsel for the defendant, prepare the case to represent the defendant’s interest, and the trial was ordered to resume on March 1, 2010.

A full documentation of the case can be found on the official website of the ICTY, including the case information sheet and all other related documentation (indictments, transcripts, trial chamber decisions and orders, appeals chamber decisions, orders, and judgments, and any other documents) are available on the official case website: IT-95-5/18-I.

The ICC Legal Tools Database is another platform providing access to the leading information on international criminal law, including international criminal decisions of, among others, the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

And lastly, the International Crimes Database (first premiered a year ago in November 2013), offers access to information and decisions on “international crimes adjudicated by national, as well as international and internationalised courts.” Cases can be browsed by a name, a category including the category of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, crime of aggression, torture, piracy, and terrorism, or it can be searched.

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