Kardzic continues to boycott trial

ThE HAGUE: Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic vowed to boycott the second day of his genocide trial in The Hague today as a UN tribunal awaited the prosecution's opening statement.

Karadzic refused to attend the first day of his trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on Monday, forcing a one-day adjournment after a sitting of just 15 minutes and the presiding judge accusing him of obstructing the process.

Despite an appeal from judge O-Gon Kwon to reconsider, Karadzic said through a legal representative on Monday he would also not be present for the second day of the hearing, on grounds that he needs more time to prepare.

Karadzic, 64, is conducting his own defence.

He is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million forced from their homes.

He denies all the charges, and faces life imprisonment if convicted. In Sweden, meanwhile, Karadizic's successor as Bosnian Serb leader, Biljana Plavsic, left a women's prison on Tuesday after the tribunal granted her early release, prison officials said. She was reportedly travelling to Belgrade.

Plavsic, 79, was sentenced in February 2003 to 11 years behind bars after she admitted playing a leading role in a campaign of persecution against Croats and Muslims during the Bosnian war. She is the highest ranking official from the former Yugoslavia to have acknowledged responsibility for atrocities committed during in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Yesterday, Kwon warned Karadzic of "measures that can be taken should he continue to obstruct the progress of the trial". This may include imposing a defence lawyer on him or proceeding in his absence.

But after meeting Karadzic in jail, his legal adviser Marco Sladojevic said the former leader of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Serb republic "will not appear" before the court Tuesday as he needed more time to study a million pages of prosecution evidence and hundreds of witness statements.

"If the defence is not properly prepared and conducted, nothing can make the trial fair," Karadzic said in a letter to the court over the weekend.

"If I am not prepared, that would not be a trial at all. Karadzic will never accept any imposed counsel" added Sladojevic.