Radovan Karadzic orchestrated the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys and his only regret was "that some Muslim men got away," a U.N. prosecutor said Monday at the former Bosnian Serb leader's war crimes trial.
Karadzic again boycotted his own trial at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on Monday, but pledged in a letter to judges that he would attend a procedural hearing Tuesday on his defense case.
Prosecutor Alan Tieger focused on Europe's worst atrocity since World War II as he wound up his opening statement Monday for the tribunal's judges. Tieger called the July 1995 slaying in Srebrenica "one of humanity's dark chapters" and laid the blame squarely at Karadzic's feet.
"The murder of these men and the expulsion of the women, children and elderly did not arise from nowhere," Tieger said. "These crimes were the culmination of the accused's determination to cleanse eastern Bosnia to ensure the Serb state he envisioned."
Karadzic is charged with two counts of genocide and nine other crimes against humanity and war crimes linked to atrocities throughout Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
He has refused to enter pleas, but insists he is innocent. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Karadzic's boycott of the trial last week frustrated dozens of war survivors — many of them widows from Srebrenica — who had traveled hundreds of miles (kilometers) by bus to see him face justice after 13 years on the run.
The 64-year-old wrote to judges that he would attend Tuesday's hearing to help find "a solution which will lead to not only an expeditious trial, but a fair one."
Karadzic claims that he did not have enough time to prepare his defense, despite having been indicted first in 1995 and arrested 14 months ago on a Belgrade bus, disguised as a New Age healer. Since then, he has been working on his defense in his cell at the tribunal's detention center.
Karadzic insists he needs up to eight more months to be ready for his trial, and wants to defend himself.
Judges will on Tuesday consider imposing a defense attorney on Karadzic. That could further delay the trial as a new lawyer would need to familiarize himself with the sprawling case.
Tieger on Monday also underscored the pivotal role allegedly played by Europe's most-wanted war crimes suspect, Gen. Ratko Mladic, in the Srebrenica takeover.
He said Mladic, Karadzic's wartime military chief, met with Dutch U.N. peacekeepers and Bosnian Muslim men in a hotel shortly after Serb forces overran Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, and told them he wanted to discuss with Muslim representatives whether they wanted to "survive, stay or vanish."
Mladic also is charged with genocide for his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre, but he remains on the run.
Tieger showed judges video footage of Mladic strutting through Srebrenica's deserted streets on July 11 and saying to a camera that "the time has come to take revenge on the Turks."