Brammertz discusses Karadžić case

Hague Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz says he expects former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić’s trial to last “between two and a half and three years”.

“We want a trial that will reflect a majority of the committed crimes, which gives space for victims to tell their stories and for that to be possible. The judges asked us to slightly reduce the indictment. The final result is completely acceptable. We will clearly show what happened in the Balkans,” Brammertz said.

He said that the change to the indictment maintained the four starting elements: ethnic cleansing in municipalities, the siege of Sarajevo, the Srebrenica massacre and the taking of “Blue Helmets”, i.e., UN soldiers, hostage.

Brammertz said that both the prosecution and defense have 300 hours each for their cases, which is roughly a year.

According to him, more than 400 witnesses have been called, “including eyewitnesses in the crimes and military experts, people who were working in the region for the UN or politicians that could put the crimes into the context in which they occurred”.

Asked about Karadžić’s claims that he had signed an agreement with U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke guaranteeing him immunity once he exited public life, Brammertz said, “the Tribunal stated that even if there was such an agreement, no one has ever seen it, and it would have no legal consequences on the procedures which are taking place.”

“Because no one can have immunity from international law and therefore, we have no reason to call Holbrooke.”

Asked whether the investigation into Karadžić’s hiding methods could help in finding former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladić, Brammertz said that the war crimes court “starts with the assumption that these are two separate networks” adding that he has faith in the Serbian team that is looking for Mladić and fellow fugitive Goran Hadžić.

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