UN judge sets Karadzic trial for Oct. 19
AMSTERDAM - A United Nations judge yesterday rejected a plea from former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic for more time to prepare his defense and ordered his long-awaited war crimes trial to begin next month.
Karadzic, who led the Bosnian Serbs through a brutal three-year ethnic war in the early 1990s, had asked for another 10 months to sort through the “millions’’ of documents and hundreds of witnesses prepared by the prosecution.
But Judge O-Gon Kwon refused, and set a trial date for Oct. 19. Another pretrial hearing will be held Oct. 6 to clear away final issues and confirm the date, he said.
Kwon said he expected the case to last 2 1/2 years or at most three years until a verdict is delivered.
Karadzic, who is defending himself, objected to the commencement date, saying his case is the most voluminous and complex that the Yugoslav tribunal has conducted since it was created in 1993. Without more time to prepare, “this will not be a proper trial.’’
Prosecutors “ambushed me with huge amounts of material which was not that important,’’ he said, asking the judge repeatedly to reconsider.
But Kwon said Karadzic had had enough time to prepare since his arrest nearly 14 months ago, and had a stable of legal consultants and assistants to help him.
“I think that’s more than sufficient,’’ said the South Korean judge.
Karadzic, a former psychologist and Bosnian politician, is charged with 11 counts of war crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including genocide for the killing of 8,000 Muslims in the UN-declared safe zone of Srebrenica in July 1995. He has denied wrongdoing.