News 16 Nov 16

UN Court Probes Karadzic Cancer Allegations

The Hague Tribunal has launched a medical investigation after war crimes defendant Radovan Karadzic claimed that cancer and other malignant diseases were rife in the UN detention unit.

Radosa Milutinovic
Radovan Karadzic in court. Photo: Beta.

Judge Theodor Meron said on Tuesday that the Hague Tribunal has recruited two independent doctors to conduct an investigation after repeated allegations by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic that the incidence of cancer has increased among detainees at the UN secure unit in Scheveningen in the Netherlands.

“We expect their report to be filed by the end of November or beginning of December,” Meron said.

Karadzic said last September that he was worried by the number of grave illnesses reported among Hague Tribunal prisoners, and called for a medical inquiry.

“It is unusual for such a number of diseases to occur in such a small space,” he told court officials.

Former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic died in July this year after suffering from brain cancer, while Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj was given temporary release for cancer treatment in November 2014.

Karadzic said on Tuesday that that his health, which used to be “perfect”, had “deteriorated significantly” since he was taken to the UN detention unit.

He said however that he had “no complaints against the medical service” at the unit.

But he did complain that he was not able to continue practicing “the religious way of life and Eastern and traditional medicine” while in the detention unit.

“Some strange rules prevented me from taking preventive steps towards preserving my health,” he said.

Karadzic was working as a self-proclaimed spiritual healer under a false name when he was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 after years on the run.

He also complained on Tuesday that he was not allowed to use Skype to maintain contacts with his family.

“The conditions in prisons do not follow the progress of humankind,” he said.

Judge Meron said he would ask the Tribunal Secretariat to respond to Karadzic’s complaints.

The former Bosnian Serb political leader was convicted in March of genocide and other crimes during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

His defence lawyer Peter Robinson said he would file an appeal by the Tribunal’s deadline of December 5.

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