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World Briefing / The Netherlands

Serb's war crimes trial is halted

October 27, 2009|Times Wire Reports

United Nations judges abruptly adjourned Radovan Karadzic's war crimes trial after the former Bosnian Serb leader boycotted the opening day to protest what he said was his lack of time to prepare a defense.

Judge O-Gon Kwon said that in the absence of Karadzic, who was defending himself, or any lawyer representing him, he was suspending the case until this afternoon, when the prosecution would begin its opening statement.

It was not immediately clear what would happen if Karadzic again boycotted the trial today. Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff urged judges to appoint a defense attorney to represent Karadzic, saying he should not be able to deliberately hold up the trial.

Karadzic, 64, one of the central figures of the Balkan wars triggered by the breakup of Yugoslavia, faces two counts of genocide and nine other charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The genocide charges stem from the 1995 killings of more than 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica and a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the country's Muslims and Croats.

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