The war crimes trial of Radovan Karadzic, who led Bosnian Serbs into a 1992-1995 war that killed 100,000 people, will start on October 26 in The Hague, judges ordered on Thursday.
Karadzic, 64, who has unsuccessfully tried to have the trial delayed and have charges against him dropped, faces life in prison on 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, murder, deportation, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians.
The trial will start at 9 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Monday, October 26, judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said in an order.
The former Bosnian Serb leader in particular faces two counts of genocide over the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica.
Arrested last year and brought to the Hague-based U.N. tribunal after 11 years on the run, Karadzic has denied all charges and is representing himself.
Karadzic also tried to have all charges against him dropped, on the grounds that former U.S. peace mediator Richard Holbrooke had offered him immunity in 1996 if he left public life.
Holbrooke has repeatedly denied that claim and earlier this week the tribunal also rejected any claim of immunity, as well as Karadzic’s appeal to delay the start of the trial for 10 months to prepare, paving the way for the start of the trial.
“This is not an average trial. This is the most complicated and most voluminous trial in this tribunal,” Karadzic told judges at a hearing last month, asking for more time to prepare.
“I cannot be ready for the beginning of the trial. Should I embark on a trial that I am not ready for?” Karadzic said.
Karadzic, occasionally raising his voice, has fought the tribunal all through pre-trial proceedings in the past year, reminiscent of combative former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who also represented himself and harangued judges and prosecutors for four years before the trial ended with his death in 2006.
The trial is likely to feature frequently on Bosnian Serb television, just as Milosevic’s case became regular fare during his trial.
In an interview with Reuters in August, Karadzic defended his role in the war, one of several conflicts as Yugoslavia was torn apart by a decade of ethnic conflict.
“I do not regret my own role,” the former Bosnian Serb leader said in a written interview from his detention center. “I didn’t seek public office, but when I held it, I carried out my duties with the best interest of the people in my heart.”
“I regret what happened during the war in Bosnia — the many lives that were lost, the suffering of people of all ethnicities, and the shattering of families and property.”
Serbian authorities arrested Karadzic in the capital Belgrade last summer after discovering him living relatively openly as a New Age healer.
Karadzic’s top military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, remains at large and his capture is a condition for Serbia to gain closer ties and eventually to join the European Union.