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Radovan Karadzic to Face New War Crimes Charges Soon


Radovan Karadzic was back in court in the Hague Wednesday, where international prosecutors said they would be ready with a new indictment against the former Bosnian Serb leader within days. Karadzic has so far been charged with genocide and 10 other counts for allegedly leading his breakaway republic through a war that killed more than 100,000 people in the early to mid 1990s. For VOA, Lauren Comiteau followed the proceedings from Amsterdam.

Wednesday's hearing at the International Criminal Tribunal was supposed to be a straight-forward legal affair tracking the progress of his case, but with Radovan Karadzic in the dock, it is anything but. Although his trial is likely months away, the hearing provided a glimpse of what that trial will ultimately look like.

Karadzic will defend himself with a team of legal advisors. He also wants the court to help him hire investigators so he can look into what he alleges was an immunity deal with former U.S. envoy to the Balkans, Richard Holbrooke, who Karadzic says was acting on the behalf of members of the U.N. Security Council. Holbrooke has denied there was such a deal.

Karadzic also insists he will not be a passive "object" in court - where he's not just defending himself, but everyone who suffered in the former Yugoslavia as well as the leaders of small nations who may one day find themselves similarly judged.

"I cannot allow such a major trial, you've never had a trial like this and never will have, that this be an opportunity to just make it look like a fair trial," said Karadzic. "And just as a human being cannot be half girl, half mermaid, or half fish, this either has to be a fair trial or no trial at all."

Karadzic accused prosecutors of wanting a quick trial at the expense of fairness.

Prosecutors, who sat through most of the day's session listening to Karadzic's criticisms against them and the court he calls illegal, promised by Monday that they will be filing a new indictment against him. But they didn't provide any specifics.

Karadzic was arrested in August in Belgrade where he had been living for 13 years, disguised with a beard and long hair. Judges entered a not guilty plea on his behalf after he refused to answer to the 11 counts against him, which include genocide for the Srebrenica massacres and the siege of Sarajevo.

He'll get another opportunity to enter a plea if prosecutors change their eight year old indictment. But after that, Mr. Karadzic seems prepared to slow things down. "This trial," he said, "is unusual and extraordinary. No need to speed it up. I won't let you."

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