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Radovan Karadzic Has First Court Session, Enters No Plea


Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic made his first appearance before the international tribunal in The Hague which is to try him on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity linked to his role in the Bosnian war of the 1990s. Karadzic informed the court that he plans to defend himself and wants more time to study the indictment against him before entering a plea. Sonja Pace has this report from London.

It was a first procedural court appearance. Presiding Judge Alphons Orie asked Karadzic to identify himself and read a summary of the charges against him.

"Mr. Karadzic, you are charged with one count of genocide under Article 4 of the Statute of the International Tribunal, with one count of complicity in genocide …. with five counts of crimes against humanity under Article 5 of the Statute, with four counts of war crimes under Articles 2 and 3 of the Statute," she said.

Sitting in the dock, Karadzic informed the court that he would defend himself "as he would against any natural catastrophe."

He told the court he was still studying the indictment and opted to delay entering a formal plea.

The man in court looked much as he had when last seen in public over a decade ago, somewhat thinner, older, but clean shaven and still sporting his trademark silver hair. He stands accused of involvement in the deaths of thousands of civilians during the Bosnian war of the 1990s.

Karadzic disappeared and was on the run for nearly 13 years, disguised as it turned out with a bushy beard, long hair and spectacles and working and living in Belgrade, where his arrest was announced last week.

Karadzic told the court he was kidnapped in Belgrade and held for three days without access to a telephone or any communication. He also said he fears for his safety even now.

Karadzic has 30 days to enter a formal plea and Judge Orie scheduled the next court session for August 29.

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