The first court appearance of Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, at the Yugoslavia war crimes tribunal in The Hague at 4pm today is attracting extensive media attention from around the world.
Both the Dutch public broadcaster NOS and the commercial channel RTLZ will broadcast the proceedings live on tv.
Karadzic was extradited to the Netherlands on Wednesday morning to stand trial for genocide and other war crimes and is being held at the UN detention centre in Scheveningen.
But while the eyes of the world were focussed on Scheveningen, local people seemed largely uninterested in what was going on. Asked for their reaction to the arrival of Karadzic, many local people stopped on the streets of the seaside town did not even know who he was.
‘I don’t know anything about sport,’ was the comment of one passer-by on the Nova current affairs programme last night which was devoted to the Karadzic case.
According to Ton Zwaan, a witness specialist in the trial against former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, very little will happen during Thursday’s court hearing. ‘I expect that he [Karadzic] will say that he is not guilty and that’s it,’ Zwaan is reported as saying on Nova.
In its editorial comment on Wednesday evening, the NRC Handelsblad expressed the hope that the Karadzic trial will not become entangled in too many judicial procedures, quoting the words of a former judge at the international court of justice last week who said ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’.
But the paper also says that the case against Karadzic is probably less complicated than that against Milosevic who died in custody before his trial on similar charges was completed. When it comes to Karadzic, ‘the chance is real that a smoking gun can be found,’ says the NRC.
Today’s hearing will be presided over by the Dutch UN judge Alphons Orie.
Karadzic faces several charges including that of genocide in connection with the Bosnian war in the early 1990s during which around 8,000 Bosnian Serb men and boys were massacred at Srebenica. The UN enclave was under Dutch protection at the time.
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