Karadzic’s ethnic cleansing plot

HAGUE:The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague was told of the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s threats as he went on trial for genocide and war crimes

14 years after the end of the conflict.

For a second day running, the accused shunned the proceedings on the grounds that he was not yet fit to conduct his own defence. The presiding judge, O-Gon Kwon, of South Korea, ordered the case to proceed despite the boycott.

The US lawyer Alan Tieger, leading the prosecution, delivered several hours of graphic evidence against Karadzic, including transcripts of telephone intercepts in which the warlord threatened the Muslim community with extermination should Bosnia declare independence from Yugoslavia.

“There are 300,000-400,000 armed Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina ... It will be a real bloodbath,” Karadzic predicted.

The threats came as the war between Serbs and Croats raged in Croatia in the autumn of 1991, well before the outbreak of war in Bosnia in April 1992.

Tieger painted a picture of a “supreme commander”, Karadzic, who enjoyed total control of Bosnian Serb politics, parliament, police, paramilitary forces and the army for the duration of the 44-month war. He sought to portray Karadzic as a cold-blooded monster who systematically and methodically planned the war well in advance and conducted it to the letter.

At the end of the war, in the summer of 1995, the accused boasted he had ordered the murder of more than 7,000 Muslim males at Srebrenica, Tieger said. Karadzic told a closed session of the Bosnian Serb parliament a few weeks after the massacre that he had signed “directive number 7” authorising it, the court was told. “I was in favour of all decisions made and I support them. The time had come,” Karadzic told the assembly. The presentation of the prosecution case came amid a test of strength between the judges and Karadzic.

Although he spurns defence lawyers, Karadzic has a team of 40 legal experts and lawyers assisting him behind the scenes and has filed about 400 motions on various issues to the court since being detained. O-Gon said Karadzic, 64, was entitled to defend himself but that this right was “not absolute” and he may have forfeited it by his boycott.