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First Day of Karadzic Trial Ends

First Day of Karadzic Trial Ends
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Making good on his threat, former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic failed to appear in court for the opening of his trial on 11 counts of crimes against humanity and genocide, adjourning the proceedings in a mere 20 minutes.

Radovan Karadzic's failure to show up angered both judges and prosecutors. Prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff accused Karadzic of manipulating the court, now that he has exhausted all the legal avenues to grant the extension he wants to prepare his case.

"He also says, as soon as I am prepared, I will be happy to inform the trial chamber and OTP [Office of the Prosecutor] a few weeks in advance. In other words, the trial can only start if the accused says it should," the prosecutor said.

She told judges they have two choices: either assign Karadzic a lawyer or let him continue to obstruct the proceedings. Judges said they will reconvene Tuesday to try and start the trial again and urged Karadzic to attend. But his legal advisors in Belgrade say he will not attend Tuesday's hearings until he is granted his several-month extension.

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Even if he does not appear, judges could let prosecutors make their opening statement. But, if the judges decide to impose counsel on Karadzic and take away his plan to defend himself, there would likely be a delay in presenting evidence until a new lawyer had time to get up to speed. Karazdic says he will not accept a court appointed lawyer.

Meanwhile, dozens of war survivors who had come to witness the start of the trial were disappointed at its quick conclusion. Kada Hotic is with the Movement of Mothers from Srerbrenica, where the 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys took place. Speaking through an interpreter, she says she is shocked, furious and disappointed at the morning's events.

"Do they realize people are waiting for justice?" Hotic asked. "This is our last and only hope to see a bit of justice."

The presiding judge read from a letter Karadzic sent to the trial chamber, last week. In it, he says he would never boycott his trial, that there must be a fair solution. The judge promised there would be one. But, he says, for that to happen, Karadzic must first appear in court.