Radovan Karadzic will get a chance next month to defend his wartime Bosnian Serb administration against genocide charges when he appears as a witness in an appeal hearing for one of his closest allies.
Karadzic’s testimony at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal will likely give an indication of how he will defend himself at his own trial before the UN court, which is expected to start next year.
Karadzic is in custody awaiting trial on genocide charges for allegedly masterminding atrocities including the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica and the deadly 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo.
The tribunal revealed on Friday that Karadzic will testify on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5 as a defense witness for Momcilo Krajisnik, the former Bosnian Serb parliament speaker who is appealing against his 2006 conviction in the murders of thousands of non-Serbs during a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign.
Krajisnik, who is serving a 27-year sentence, could not call Karadzic as a witness during his original trial because the former Bosnian Serb leader was on the run, trying to avoid arrest and extradition to the tribunal.
In a decision published on Friday, the tribunal’s appeals chamber said it believed that if Karadzic had testified at Krajisnik’s trial his evidence “could have had an impact on the verdict.”
Prosecutors, who objected to Karadzic being called, had no comment on the decision, spokeswoman Olga Kavran said.
Krajisnik was convicted for leading — allegedly with Karadzic — ethnic cleansing campaigns to drive Muslims and Croats out of large areas of Bosnia.
Karadzic and Krajisnik were close allies as president and parliament speaker in the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic known as Republika Srpska, and were reunited in the tribunal’s detention center after Karadzic’s arrest on a Belgrade bus in late July after 13 years as a fugitive.
In the original verdict on Krajisnik, judges said he and Karadzic ran Republika Srpska “as a personal fief” and described Karadzic as Krajisnik’s closest associate.
At an appeals hearing in August, one of Krajisnik’s lawyers, American Alan Dershowitz, said he had already met briefly with Karadzic and was confident he would help clear Krajisnik’s name.
“He will in fact be providing very significant exculpatory evidence,” Dershowitz told judges, without elaborating.
Prosecutors say they proved at Krajisnik’s trial that he was involved in a criminal conspiracy, along with Karadzic and other Serb leaders, to create ethnically pure Serb areas within Bosnia.
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