Trial Chamber orders the appointment of counsel to Karadzic 05 Nov 2009
The Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia has ordered the appointment of counsel to Radovan Karadzic, but recognised his fundamental right to self-representation.

Radovan KaradzicOn Thursday 5 November 2009, the Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) ordered the appointment of counsel to Radovan Karadžić. The Chamber nevertheless recognised Karadžić’s right to self-representation, ordering that he would continue to represent himself, with the appointed counsel only taking over as assigned counsel if he continued to obstruct the proceedings.

The order follows a status conference held on 3 November during which the parties gave oral submissions on how to proceed with the case in light of the continued refusal of Karadžić to appear before the Tribunal.

In its decision, the Trial Chamber stated that “the overall interests of justice are best met by the appointment of counsel”, and ordered the Registrar to proceed in that regard. The Trial Chamber also ordered the trial to resume on 1 March 2010, allowing the appointed counsel three and a half months to prepare for the trial.

In the status conference, to which Karadžić attended, the Prosecution stated that they foresaw two scenarios for proceeding with the trial. In its first submission, the Prosecution outlined that the Chamber could order the opening statement of the Defence, followed by the hearing of the first three Prosecution witnesses and also assign standby, duty counsel to Karadžić. In its decision, the Chamber has partially followed the Prosecution’s second option, on the imposition of counsel. During his submissions, Karadžić repeated his claims to have not been given sufficient time to prepare his case, and maintained that allowing him adequate time for the preparation of his own Defence remained the best solution.

The decision of the Chamber to impose counsel follows Karadžić’s refusal to attend the opening of his trial on 26 October, and all subsequent trial days, including the Prosecution’s opening statement. The Chamber concluded that Karadžić had “substantially and persistently obstructed the proper and expeditious conduct of his trial by refusing to attend the proceedings until such time as he considers himself to be ready”. It nonetheless honoured Karadžić’s fundamental right to self-representation under Article 21 of the Statute of the Tribunal. According to the Chamber, Karadžić will forfeit this right, and the appointed counsel will take over as assigned counsel to represent him, if he continues to absent himself from the proceedings or engages in any conduct that “obstructs the proper and expeditious conduct of the trial”.

The trial is now scheduled to resume with Karadžić’s opening statement in March.

Radovan Karadžić

Click here for an overview of the case against Radovan Karadzic, including some of the difficulties faced in conducting his 'mega trial'

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Court Documents / Documents juridiques

Decision on appointment of counsel

Press release

5 November 2009

Karadžić Response to Letter from Chamber
24 October

Karadžić Letter to Tribunal
21 October

19 October 2009

Appeal Decision on Commencement of Trial

13 October 2009

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