Karadzic seeks time to ready for war crimes trial


Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic said on Friday he needs precisely 14,171 extra hours to prepare his defense against charges of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, because of the sheer scope of documents and testimony that must be reviewed.

Karadzic’s request comes days after prosecutors scaled back the scope of their case against him, in response to a pre-trial judge’s urgings to shorten it and focus on main incidents.

The same judge said two weeks ago he thought the case was ready for trial.

“The prosecution has shown no serious inclination to significantly reduce the scope of this mega-trial,” Karadzic wrote in a filing released by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Arrested last year after 11 years on the run, Karadzic faces 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including two of genocide. He has been held in a detention facility in the Hague for a year.

In step-by-step calculations, Karadzic said he and his advisers would have to review 591,315 pages of selected documents, 5,420 hours of testimony by prosecution witnesses and other preparations, requiring in total 22,145 hours of preparation.

Assuming a 7.5 hour workday for his legal team and discounting hours already spent, Karadzic arrived at his final figure, which translates into 10.1 months.

Karadzic said he has “no incentive to delay the trial unnecessarily” but “cannot look forward to a trial for which he has had no proper opportunity to prepare.”

Earlier this week, the prosecution reduced the number of municipalities where incidents related to the indictment took place and reduced testimony by about a quarter to 152 witnesses.

Created in 1993, the tribunal has said that it expects to wrap up its cases by the end of 2010 and appeals by end-2011, although the U.N. Security Council is expected to allow the court to finish the case against Karadzic. Triggered by the break-up of Yugoslavia, the war in Bosnia was the scene of some of intense fighting and ethnic cleansing. Karadzic, as well as his general Ratko Mladic, who is still at-large, face genocide charges over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo.

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