Karadzic’s first appearance at The Hague – will his trial be fair?

August 1, 2008

karadzic.jpgRadovan Karadzic has finally appeared in public without his disguise for the first time in more than a decade. The former Bosnian Serb leader looked gaunt after 11 years on the run as he stood before a judge at a United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Some media commentators said he was a shadow of his former self but there were still signs of defiance from the man who defied the West for so long during the 1992-95 Bosnia war. Some said his performance brought back memories of the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader who died in detention in 2006 before his trial at The Hague ended.

      Karadzic says it is unimaginable that he could get a fair trial because the world’s media have already branded him a war criminal. 

     Here’s what some of the world’s media are saying about him and his trial.

     The Paris-based International Herald Tribune said Karadzic “seemed a shadow of the flamboyant ideologue who incited Bosnian Serbs to follow him into an ethnic war that turned into genocide.” It quoted specialists who say that prosecuting the case against Karadzic will be simpler than the case against Milosevic.    

    The Washington Post said Karadzic was purse-lipped and defiant. “In remarks cut short by the judge, the former Bosnian Serb leader suggested he would attempt to expose alleged double-dealing by the West, particularly the United States, in the wake of the 1992-95 Bosnian war. That could presage the kind of political grandstanding that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who also represented himself, used to sidetrack his prosecution before he died in his cell at the tribunal’s detention center in 2006.”   

     The Financial Times in London said that unlike Milosevic, Karadzic had not sought to question the court’s legitimacy but tried to score procedural points. The Independent newspaper in London said justice must be quick but “the most difficult dilemma is how to give a fair trial to a man who wants to be tried unfairly.”  

    The Sydney Morning Herald and the Gulf Daily News highlighted Karadzic’s allegations a deal was offered by the United States. The Chinese news agency Xinhua highlighted the fact that Karadzic was gravely concerned about his life because he said the United States might be seeking to “liquidate” him.  

   An article in the Gulf Daily News also noted: “Mothers of those killed in the Srebrenica massacre sat around a television set in their small Sarajevo office and charged that Karadzic was given rights that their husbands and sons were denied.” 

    The Arab News contained an article portraying Karadzic as a “showman who always sought the limelight”.  

        What did you think of Karadzic’s appearance and what do you expect of his trial? Will it be fair? 


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War crimes… how can there be such a thing ??? Surely to declare war on another country, state or person is a crime in itslef. If this is so surely to delare war in the name of poitics is an abomination to god and all his creation. There is alot of criticsim about folk in the past that have gone out with the aim of converting others to christianity with the hope to spread a better way of living. Some outcome of this missionary style turned into mass murder in the name of god. I see exactly the same thing taking place in the world today but we are going out in the name of democracy to convert others to this religion. The consequences are exactly the same thing but for a different cause and probably a worse one at that. What the heck has democracy got that everybody supposedly needs. It is one of the biggest herresy’s of all time, decieving folk into thinking it is the way to live. What about communism ??? Was not Jesus into communing with hid disciples ??? Why dont we learn from the past ??? I dont the answer to world peace but democray is not. I think if we learn to treat others the way we would want to be treated, theres a start. How can one person/country demand a total abolition of nuclear power and still have this same thing. Somebody needs to stand up and lead by example. If that means biting the bullet, do it.
I have much more to say on this matter but i guess i will run out of space here.
Thank you for the opportunity to do my ranting here.

Posted by Clive watson | Report as abusive

Oh sorry i went off on one here and forgot what we where talking about. War Crimes…hmmm. All is fair in love and war and thats true. War is war and thats the end of it. Theres no right and wrong way of doing war and thats the truth. Both sides have one aim and thats to win. In the meantime the looser gets made a public spectacle of and accused and condemned. One persons terrorist is another persons freedon fighter. Democracy is not the answer to peace. Any way ive started again so i will leave in peace.

Posted by Clive watson | Report as abusive

I don’t know which of two possibilities is worse: Wether there WAS a shady deal that Karadzic would not be captured if he stayed out of public life and its been broken, or that they really were unable to find him under their noses in Belgrade all these years. In the first case there would be of course no real guarantee for a fair public trial, and in the second case the court is grossly incompetent to trial him.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

While I abhor the crimes to which this Radovan Karadzic is assuredly responsible, this show-trial is ridiculous and unnecessary as his guilty verdict was already a definite outcome before the first court session had commenced.

This is therefore victors justice, and empty gesture. Though the bulk of the war-crimes during the conflict were indeed committed by the Serbian side, international agencies also documented horrible war-crimes including orchestrated pack-rape and murder by the Bosnian rebels against the Bosnian-Serb minority there.

Until justice is served for both sides of the conflict, and not just the victors, I don’t believe these proceedings at the Hague shall serve any universal justice, rather they serve as an act of revenge.

Daniel Shaw, NY

Posted by Daniel Shaw, NY | Report as abusive

Appearance? Who cares about his appearance?! His actions and individuals who followed his “commmand” are responsible for the horrors inflicted against the Serb people. Fair trial? The man’s a wimp for hiding so many years. Fair trial – where? My sympathy is non-existent for anyone like this. Should he rot in jail? Can’t say; he should get his just desserts.

Posted by good day | Report as abusive

Trial ? why ? Karadzic is a war criminal !! he does not need a European trial ! it is a pity that he was extradicted to Holland, he should be judged in IRAN, then we would obtain the result he deserves.

Posted by MANOEL JORGE TAVARES | Report as abusive