|Radovan Karadžić's lawyer expects guilty verdict over war crimes|
|петак, 18 март 2016 23:18|
The Guardian | Friday 18 March 2016 17.43 GMT | Matthew Weaver
Adviser plans to appeal if UN tribunal finds ex-Bosnian Serb leader guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity next week
Radovan Karadžić’s lawyer says he expects a UN tribunal to find the former Bosnian Serb wartime leader guilty of war crimes and is planning to launch an appeal after it delivers its verdict in The Hague next week.
Peter Robinson said Karadžić’s five-year trial for genocide and crimes against humanity was dogged by problems because of the politically motivated scope of the process.
“I don’t think he got a fair trial, but that is something we will have to thrash out at appeal,” Robinson told the Guardian, after giving a seminar on the case to law students at Nottingham University on Thursday night.
Robinson said he would be surprised if the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found Karadžić guilty of genocide committed by forces under his control, including the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.
But the American lawyer appeared resigned to convictions on lesser charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. “We are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst,” he said. He added that Karadžić was more optimisticabout his chances than his legal team.
He said the 70-year-old, who represented himself in the trial with help from Robinson and Serbian lawyers, felt “genuine remorse” for what happened in Bosnia but did not accept legal responsibility. “He feels remorse for the people who died and suffered while he was president. He feels moral responsibility rather than legal responsibility,” Robinson added.
In the seminar, Robinson gave a detailed account of problems during the trial, including 85 upheld disclosure violations by the prosecution and rules stacked against the accused, such as the ICTY’s definition of joint criminal enterprise (JCE) and aiding and abetting.
“Defending somebody like Karadžić at these international tribunals is pretty much like trying to stop a moving train,” Robinson said.
He added: “We called JCE ‘just convict everyone’ because it was so broad. I don’t think Karadžić ever had a presumption of innocence at the ICTY because of all this evidence that was admitted against him before the trial even started.”
Robinson admitted that the defence team was badly prepared for the “mammoth case” against Karadžić. “I have never been so unprepared for a trial in my entire career,” he said. The prosecution submitted 3m pages of disclosure in a case that Robinson likened to a “dog’s breakfast”.
“When he started he wasn’t very good at it. He asked questions that elicited more damaging information than the prosecution had,” he said. But by the end of trial Karadžić “became a pretty good lawyer”.
Robinson claimed that if ICTY rules on aiding and abetting were applied in Syria, Barack Obama would be guilty of war crimes by arming Syrian rebels who committed atrocities.
He said: “The achilles heel of international justice is that there is a double standard. There’s one standard for small countries like Bosnia, Rwanda and Liberia and another standard for big countries like the UK, the US and Russia. That really needs to change, or else people will be cynical and unaccepting of international justice.”
He said the ICTY was too political and that it took on a role beyond a criminal court into the territory of a truth and reconciliation commission. He called for “shorter trials, more focused indictments and fewer accused”.
But for all its flaws, Robinson still supports the process. He said: “There is no way they would have prosecuted [Serbia leader Slobodan] Milošević [who died before the verdict], Karadžić and [Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko] Mladić without the ICTY. So for that reason alone, it was worth it.
“The idea is that no matter how powerful they are, people know that one day they can be brought to The Hague and have to answer for what they are doing. I believe in that and I think that makes the whole thing worthwhile.”
Robinson said he had no moral qualms about defending Karadžić or others accused of war crimes. “You put a bubble around yourself; away from passing judgment on your client, you are simply their champion. That’s your role in the system. If you don’t do that role right then the system isn’t going to work. It’s pretty addictive to be working on big cases involving genocide.”
Marko Milanovic, a Serb-born associate professor of law at Nottingham University, who organised the seminar, said: “What I found fascinating is that Robinson is a complete believer in the system. He defends the demonised, but he is a believer in the system that demonises them.”
But he disputed Robinson’s claim that Karadžić’s trial was unfair. “Broadly speaking he got a fair trial, it was certainly fairer than he would have got anywhere else.
“But there’s no way he can be acquitted. The question is how extensive the conviction will be. He’s the biggest fish they’ve got.”
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