[JURIST] Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive] appeared before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Monday to defend himself against charges related to war crimes allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. Karadzic began his opening statement by denying [UPI report] any plan to expel Muslims from Serbia, and by blaming [Telegraph report] Muslims and Western countries for triggering the Bosnian civil war. Karadzic is defending himself against 11 counts [amended indictment, PDF] including genocide and murder, after initially threatening to boycott [JURIST report] the trial and having standby counsel appointed [JURIST reports] by the ICTY. He is scheduled to continue with his opening statements on Tuesday, with the prosecution set to call its first witness on Wednesday. He faces a sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The resumption of Karadzic's trial comes after a series appeals by the defense, which have been viewed as a way for Karadzic to delay the legal process [BBC report]. Last month, Karadzic appeared before the ICTY seeking access to documents [JURIST report] he claimed showed evidence of weapons smuggling to Bosnian Muslims. Also last month, the ICTY dismissed Karadzic's appeal [JURIST reports] against the imposition of his court-appointed lawyer. In December, the Trial Chamber rejected Karadzic's motion [JURIST reports] challenging the legitimacy of the court. The ICTY began Karadzic's trial in absentia in October after Karadzic failed to appear [JURIST reports] in court. The ICTY has also repeatedly rejected [JURIST report] Karadzic's argument that he should be immune from trial based on an alleged agreement with former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke. In June, the ICTY said that Karadzic's trial, scheduled to be the tribunal's last, is expected to conclude in early 2012 [JURIST report].