The trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is unlikely to start before September, the judge at his Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Wednesday.
Even the pre-trial conference is unlikely to start before then, Judge Iain Bonomy said at a status hearing. The conference had been scheduled for July 20 but Bonomy called that date “not realistic.” Prosecutor Alan Tieger told the court that the case against Karadzic, 64, would take approximately 490 hours. That means the prosecution’s case will likely take longer than a year, a court spokeswoman said. Karadzic is facing 11 counts of war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity stemming from the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzigovina, when he was president of a breakaway Serb republic. The tribunal accuses Karadzic of leading a campaign that killed thousands of men, women and children — mainly Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats who were killed by Serbs as part of a violent effort to rid the region of non-Serbs. Forces under Karadzic’s command rounded up tens of thousands of non-Serbs and held them in camps where Serbian forces tortured, mistreated, sexually assaulted and killed non-Serbs, the indictment says. The indictment also charges Karadzic with responsibility for a protracted campaign of shelling and sniping of civilian areas of Sarajevo, killing and wounding thousands of civilians, including children and the elderly. The Bosnian war was Europe’s bloodiest conflict since World War II and the longest of the wars spawned by the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. Karadzic, who is defending himself, has said he never planned, instigated, ordered, committed, or otherwise participated in any of the crimes charged. He faces life in prison if convicted. Karadzic spent more than a decade on the run before Serbian authorities announced his arrest as he traveled by bus in Belgrade last July. It emerged that he had worked at a clinic in Belgrade as an alternative medicine therapist, using an elaborate disguise of a long white beard, white mustache, and long white hair.