ICTY suspends Karadzic trial for 6 weeks

ICTY suspends Karadzic trial for 6 weeks

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[JURIST] The trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday ordered the suspension [decision, PDF] of the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [case materials; JURIST news archive] for six weeks beginning after witness testimonies already scheduled for March. The postponement allows Karadzic to review 32,000 pages and 200 hours of video material that the prosecution sent to him in January. In requesting the suspension, Karadzic alleged that he was prejudiced when he did not have all of the Rule 68 [text, PDF] exculpatory material in the possession of the Prosecution before he started his cross-examination of witnesses. The trial chamber orally granted the motion last week and wrote in its decision:

The suggestion by the Prosecution that 32,000 pages of documents and 200 hours of video … can be disclosed en masse to the Accused on a single day, with an expectation that he should be able to continuously review and incorporate this volume of material, if necessary, into the conduct of his defence is untenable. … The Chamber is not satisfied that continuing with the trial proceedings, and allowing the Accused to later recall certain witnesses for further cross-examination following his review of the Disclosed Material, if necessary, is sufficient, in this instance, to ensure his fair trial rights. Moreover, it will not be, in practical terms, conducive to the smooth conduct of the trial. In reaching this conclusion the Chamber also notes that the pattern of disclosure violations in this case has continued and is mindful of the impact which this has had on the smooth and orderly conduct of the trial. … The Chamber reiterates its deep concern about the volume of potentially exculpatory material which the Prosecution continues to disclose to the Accused, and the impact which this has had on the Accused’s preparations and the smooth conduct of this trial.

Karadzic faces 11 war crimes charges [indictment, PDF], including counts of genocide and murder, for alleged crimes he committed during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Karadzic is defending himself in court and has denied all of the charges against him.

Karadzic’s trial was previously suspended [JURIST report] in November for a month to allow him to read 14,000 pages of evidence the prosecution sent to him in October. The court’s decision to delay the trial was partially because of the prosecution’s repeated violations of its obligation to disclose evidence to the accused. In September, the trial resumed [JURIST report] as Karadzic defended himself before the ICTY after repeated attempts to delay proceedings. The trial previously resumed in April [JURIST report], after the ICTY denied [judgment PDF, JURIST report] Karadzic’s attempt [motion, PDF] to delay court proceedings, in which he argued a violation of his right to a fair hearing due to the court’s rejection of evidentiary challenges. In March, Karadzic lost another motion to postpone his war crimes trial for charges committed during the Bosnia conflict. Following repeated delays in the proceedings, the ICTY judges warned in September that the trial might continue until 2014 [JURIST report], which is two years longer than expected.