|"Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, began his defense against war crime charges at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Tuesday." (Pool photo by Robin Van Lonkhuijsen)|
By Marlise Simons
The New York Times, October 16, 2012
"He was once known for his virulent speeches throughout Bosnia, but on Tuesday as Radovan Karadzic began his defense in a new phase of his genocide trial, he told international judges that he was a 'mild and tolerant man' and that instead of standing accused, he should be 'rewarded for all the good things I have done.' It was Mr. Karadzic’s turn to have his say, after prosecutors had presented him as the architect of a brutal three-year war. 'Everybody who knows me knows I am not an autocrat, I am not aggressive, I am not intolerant,' Mr. Karadzic, 67, a former psychiatrist who became the Bosnian Serb wartime leader, told the court. 'On the contrary, I am a mild man, a tolerant man with great capacity to understand others.' He said he wrote children's poetry, did not hate Bosnian Muslims -- he added that he had a Muslim barber -- and did 'everything in his power to reduce the war.' From the public gallery at the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague, there were noisy cries of 'He's lying!' Other angry survivors of the war gathered outside. Among the close to 70 trials held at the tribunal, Mr. Karadzic's case involves perhaps its most famous chameleon. Indicted on charges of war crimes, he went into hiding in 1996, emerging 13 years later in the guise of a new-age healer, bearded and longhaired. These days, Mr. Karadzic spends long hours in the dock in a business suit, politely conducting his own defense. The list of charges against him include some of the worst episodes of violence in Europe since World War II.
Prosecutors, who called more than 200 witnesses, said he bore responsibility for the campaign to drive the Croat and Muslim population from parts of Bosnia, for the bloody three-year siege of Sarajevo and for his role in the mass murder of captive prisoners in Srebrenica. Acting as his own lawyer, while assisted by a court-financed team of lawyers and clerks, Mr. Karadzic said he would call 300 witnesses to prove his innocence and has demanded more time. The court has reminded him that while prosecutors used 300 court hours to make their case and present lead witnesses, Mr. Karadzic used more than 700 hours to cross-examine them during that period. He has long denied the charge of genocide, stemming from the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were captives in Srebrenica in 1995. Peter Robinson, an experienced American defense lawyer on the Karadzic team, said that Mr. Karadzic would argue that the mass executions could not be his responsibility because there was no such policy. In court on Tuesday, Mr. Karadzic went further: 'There is no indication that anyone was killed by us at Srebrenica.' Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb commander accused of masterminding the Srebrenica massacre, is on trial in separate proceedings at the same tribunal. Mr. Mladic, who was under Mr. Karadzic's command, has often said he was following the politicians' orders. The two men, who were often at odds during the latter part of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, face similar charges, and as their trials unfold they increasingly seem to blame each other. [...]"