News 04 Sep 12

Bosnia Victims Appeal Karadzic’s Genocide Acquittal

Representatives of victims of crimes committed in seven municipalities have asked the Appeals Chamber of the Hague Tribunal to appeal against the decision to acquit Radovan Karadzic of genocide charges committed in 1992.

Denis Dzidic

The brief, filed on behalf of Satko Mujagic and Fikret Alic, victims from Prijedor and the Association of Witness and Genocide Survivors, is supported by over 70 individuals and associations from Bosnia and the region.

They have asked the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, ICTY, to oppose the Trial Chamber decision to acquit Karadzic of genocide in 1992 in Prijedor, Kljuc, Zvornik, Sanski Most, Bratunac, Foca and Vlasenica.

“Victims of this crime have a human and historical appreciation and understanding of consequences of this ruling like that of no other party before the court," the brief says.

"Their perspective of the historical consequences notes the lasting impact that the decision will have on Bosnian Muslims and Croats and the people of Bosnia”, the brief adds.

The brief says the Tribunal’s application of the law of genocide to the facts presented about the violence they experienced and witnessed in 1992 will provide sufficient explanation and assign responsibility for the terror inflicted on them.

“As victims of Karadzic’s alleged crimes, the Applicants are uniquely qualified to submit a brief on behalf of themselves and other victims of genocidal violence, including those who no longer have a voice to raise to this Tribunal.

"They were there and know what they experienced. This Tribunal, sitting in judgment of alleged crimes in former Yugoslavia, may be the last forum before which they can be heard,” the brief continues.

According to Hague Tribunal rules, the Trial Chamber, after the prosecution has presented its evidence, can acquit the accused of one or all counts of the indictment.

But the victims' brief says that in this case it cannot be said that reasonable evidence is lacking that Karadzic is not guilty of genocide in the seven municipalities.

After the prosecution’s presentation of evidence, which lasted two years, the Trial Chamber acquitted Karadzic of charges of genocide in the seven municipalities in June. The Hague prosecution appealed the decision.

Karadzic, former president and supreme commander of armed forces of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of war, in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.

The prosecution completed presenting its evidence in May. The defence is to start presenting evidence in October.  

At a status conference on September 3, the Trial Chamber rejected Karadzic's motion, requesting a new trial due to problems related to disclosure of evidence to the defence.

Trial Chamber Chairman O-Gon Kwon said Karadzic had failed to demonstrate that he had suffered damage because the prosecution was late in disclosing evidence to the defence.

“Although the number of violations of the rule to disclose evidence in this case has put the Prosecution in a bad light, particularly in relation to knowledge of the content of the volumes of evidence and its approach to disclosure, the Trial Chamber has not determined that the indictee has suffered any damage due to these violations,” the Trial Chamber said.

At the status conference the Trial Chamber commented on the list of 600 potential defence witnesses, which Karadzic filed previously, saying it was too long.

Judge O-Gon Kwon said many of the witnesses proposed by Karadzic were irrelevant, while statements by many others were repetitive.

Hence, the Tribunal said that, by September 14 Karadzic should reconsider the list of witnesses and submit a shortened list.

The judge recommended Karadzic be “careful” and “humbler” when selecting his witnesses.

Commenting on the indictee's allusion that he might personally testify at the end of the defence's presentation of evidence, the judge said that such a statement would have “more evidential value” at the beginning of the Defence's presentation of evidence.

The trial of Karadzic began in 2009.

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