Radovan Karadzic is making a mockery of efforts to strengthen courts’ ability to try and prosecute accused war criminals. Karadzic faces charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, all of which left 100,000 dead in the 1993-1995 war. Yet he has failed to show up when the trial started, claiming he required more time to prepare his defense. Um, he had thirteen years. Is that not enough time?
Maybe not. The court handed the former Bosnian-Serb leader nearly one million pages of court documents. That seems excessive. But they should demand he be present for the court proceedings. The notion that by forcibly dragging him into court would elicit sympathy or undermine the court’s legitimacy is nonsense. Serbian supporters of Karadzic already dispute the legitimacy of the court and consider it a show trial. The problem is that, like the trial against Slobodan Milosevic, the court comes off as feckless and weak. In its quest for being thorough and diligent, it is taking way too long to reach any verdict. The worst shame would be if Karadzic is able to kick the ball down the court indefinitely and dies in his peace in the comfort of his Dutch cell, Milosevic-style. It also would give Charles Taylor and other genocidaires in the dock a strategy to postpone justice as long as conceivably possible.
The victims of the war crimes deserve better, swifter justice.