Court Says Karadzic's Standby Lawyer to Remain
Judges at the Hague have rejected a request by wartime Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic to remove his standby defence lawyer as his trial enters the defence stage.
Karadzic, who represents himself in court, had asked that standby lawyer Richard Harvey be removed from the case, arguing that his presence was no longer necessary.
Judges initially assigned Harvey to the case in November 2009 after Karadzic boycotted the opening of his trial. The appointment led to several months’ delay in proceedings, as Harvey needed time to prepare.
In a filing on May 7, 2012, Karadzic said he planned to cooperate fully with the court, adding that it was unnecessary to continue Harvey’s mandate.
Karadzic stated that he “fully intends to comply with all the orders and directions of the trial chamber, as he has done throughout the prosecution’s case”.
The prosecution, however, contended that Harvey should stay on, and said that after the lawyer’s initial appointment Karadzic had become more cooperative.
“Following his objection to the timing of the start of the trial [in October 2009], the accused only began attending and participating in the prosecution’s evidence phase of the trial once standby counsel was in place,” the prosecution stated.
The judges initially appointed Harvey because of Karadzic’s boycott, and the trial was subsequently adjourned from November 2009 to March 2010.
Responding to Karadzic’s latest request, the prosecution argued that it was possible he might pursue “similar tactics” in his defence case, thus “creating the risk of further delays and adjournments”.
In their June 21 decision, the judges stated that Harvey’s role in the proceedings remained unchanged.
“The standby counsel must maintain a state of readiness to take over the conduct of the case at any time, and… this will require him to develop a defence strategy and conduct some investigations on his own so that, if he should be ordered to represent the accused’s interests, the proceedings would not need to be adjourned,” the bench wrote.
The accused is due to begin presenting his defence case in October.
Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, who was president of the self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory.”
He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.
Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run. The prosecution rested its case in May, after two years of witness testimony.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR senior reporter in The Hague.