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1 Mar, 2010 06:27

Villain or hero? Karadzic trial resumes in The Hague

Radovan Karadzic, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs, has accused prosecutors in The Hague of fabricating the evidence used during his tribunal. The comments were made as his trial resumed on Monday.

The trial opened last October, but was suspended when Karadzic claimed he had been denied enough time to prepare his defense.

He also said that Richard Holbrooke, now the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, promised him immunity from prosecution in exchange for abandoning power after the Bosnian war – claims Washington has denied.

During his defense speech today, Karadzic gave a strong rebuke to the prosecutors.

"It would appear that the prosecution has struck an agreement with our enemies in war, or, as we like to say without joking that the prosecutor is trying to turn this tribunal into a disciplinary commission of NATO,” Karadzic said. “To say that this is not an exaggeration you will hear from the high ranking officers of this tribunal itself to the effect that NATO planned to liquidate Karadzic, and everybody that went against the grain of NATO had to be taken to trial."

Christoph Horstel, a business and government consultant, says Karadzic's claims against NATO dominance in the Hague are justified and this is not the right court for the trial.

“It’s clearly NATO-dominated court and for that reason it should be abolished,” Horstel told RT. “We should establish a different procedure and that procedure should be okayed by the full session of the United Nations organization.”

The former president and commander of the Bosnian Serb Republic, Radovan Karadzic is accused of mass murder on a horrific scale – he faces 11 charges of war crimes, including genocide and crimes against humanity, in connection with the Bosnian conflict which left more than 100,000 people dead. 

Karadzic was on the run for nearly 13 years before he was arrested in Belgrade in 2008.

Though widely condemned by the international community, in his homeland, he is hailed as a hero. And though Radovan Karadzic might be in The Hague, to his fans back in his hometown of Pale, he is not that far away. The talk of the town is still about him. And while he is being tried by the West for war crimes, here he is the local hero who has been unfairly accused.

Zoran Kostic met Karadzic in the early 1970s at a poetry festival in the then-Yugoslavia. He says history will judge him differently.

“I do not doubt that Radovan will be successful in his defense, because he has the truth on his side,” Kostic said. “When in the history of law and civilization was it forbidden to defend your people?”

But for Dane Cankovic, Karadzic’s trial is more than just one man standing in the dock.
He believes the whole of the Republika Srpska, where Karadzic was president during the Bosnian war years, is on trial.

“The tactics of Western governments and their allies is to accuse the Republika Srpska of genocide. If they can prove Radovan Karadzic is guilty, then they can prove that the Republika Srpska was founded on genocide,” claimed Cankovic, adding that “We know what the verdict of The Hague tribunal will be – guilty.”

Dane has collected thousands of signatures of Bosnian Serbs who are calling for a referendum to be held. They want the Republika Srpska to be independent from Bosnia-Hertzogovina, and believe this is the only way they can guarantee their future.

For more than a decade, Radovan Karadzic has not set foot here in Pale, although his family still lives there. Overlooking the town is the building which he used as his headquarters during the war and from where he commanded his efforts.

Photographs of their war hero still hang from the walls of the favorite local hangout. It is a place where Serbs come to relax and reflect on the glory of their past. Locals do not doubt that Radovan Karadzic is their Serbian leader and a positive influence. They know for sure that he is far from being a criminal and they all support him. They believe there is no reason for him to be in The Hague.

They do so because even now in The Hague he is defending the opinions of his people.

In Pale no one expects Karadzic to get a fair deal in the Netherlands. They say his trial is just another example of the double standards of the West towards Serbia and the Serbian people.