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Karadzic Trial Resumes March 1, Court Rejects Delay

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in the courtroom of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague in November 2009
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -- The war crimes trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic will resume on March 1, judges at the Yugoslavia tribunal have ruled, dismissing his request for a postponement.

Karadzic, who denies all 11 counts of war crimes relating to the 1992-95 Bosnian war, had asked for a further delay of his trial after judges appointed London-based barrister Richard Harvey in November as his lawyer and postponed the trial to March 1.

"A further postponement would be a drastic measure that would, concurrently, have real repercussions for the parties' rights to a fair and expeditious trial," the court's judges said in statement which was signed by Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon.

Karadzic had said more time was necessary until the court's appeals chamber had ruled on one of his appeals against Harvey's appointment and there was a decision on defence funding.

On February 12, the appeal chamber said Harvey could stay on as counsel because of Karadzic's "persistent obstructive behavior." Harvey was appointed after Karadzic boycotted the first three days of his trial in October.

Harvey's exact role in the trial will be determined after Karadzic has given his opening statements on March 1 and 2, the judges said.

If Karadzic, who has said he plans to attend the March 1 opening, continues to boycott the rest of the trial, he loses his right to represent himself and the appointed lawyer will take over.

Karadzic, who was captured in July 2008 after 11 years on the run, is being charged with the genocide of 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, the worst atrocity of the Bosnian conflict, and responsibility in the 43-month siege of Sarajevo beginning in 1992.

An estimated 10,000 people died in the siege as the former Yugoslavia was torn apart in the 1990s by Serbs, Croats and Muslims fighting for land.