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Tuesday 27 October 2009

With Or Without You

The week started in den Haag in a state of apparent farce: the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, anticipated for so long not least by survivors and relatives of the dead, had to be postponed as the accused didn’t show. Karadzic, who is defending himself, claimed he needed more time to prepare his defence – several months more.

Fortunately, this ridiculous state of affairs was not allowed to continue, and today the trial has started without him. Perhaps a defence lawyer will have to be imposed on Karadzic: there is no way he should be allowed to evade the witnesses, their testimonies, and ultimately the due process of law.

In wars, there is conflict and combat: all participants take casualties. This is the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of such fighting. In Bosnia, however, the actions of the Bosnian Serbs under the political leadership of Karadzic, and the military command of the still free Ratko Mladic, were on several occasions not those of combat, but of the killing fields. Moreover, civilians – especially in the city of Sarajevo – were routinely and deliberately targeted.

Now that Slobodan Milosevic, whose ambition broke apart the state of Yugoslavia, is dead, Karadzic stands as the principal accused. Look well into those eyes: this is the man who spoke of Sarajevo becoming a cauldron, in which 300,000 Muslims would die.

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