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29 September 2015
News

Karadzic Demands Probe Into UN Prisoners' Health

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has asked the UN to investigate an alleged increase in the number of malignant diseases among defendants in the Hague tribunal.
Radovan Karadzic has told a status conference on his health that he is worried by the number of grave illnesses reported among Hague prisoners.

"I ask you to examine what [it] is... It is unusual for such a number of diseases to occur in such a small space," he said.

Karadzic told the status conference that he had an operation due to gall bladder inflammation last month, just after he complained to the trial chamber about his health condition.

"Thanks to your intervention, I was sent to the ultrasound [scan] the same day, where they saw my gall bladder was in the final stage... I would have gone yellow the next day... The same day, I had urgent surgery," Karadzic said.

Details of the surgery were not made public. He said during the open hearing that his blood sugar level was high, but was now stable.

Karadzic believes the cause of his illness lies in the "system", meaning the conditions in the Hague tribunal detention unit in Scheveningen.

He argues that he "came into custody in exemplary good health", which he preserved with "Christian tradition and Eastern medicine".

Before his health deteriorated in August, Karadzic said that "eight teeth broke with no reason", which was "an indicator something in the body was disrupted".

He also complained about the food in custody, saying it was frozen and heated in the microwave, was of "bad quality and [had an] unusual taste for the people from the Balkans".

Given that the custody is "more [like] a retirement home" where there are "intellectuals", "barely anyone gets accustomed to different tastes and barely anyone eats their meal," Karadzic said.

Karadzic's request for the investigation into how detention affects prisoners' health is based on a claim that 11 detainees suffered from malignant diseases since they came into custody in the summer of 2008. The detention system in The Netherlands is not designed for "fragile people in their third age", he said.

Detention staff are "excellent", but "the rules are pointless", Karadzic said.

Asked by the judges whether he was involved in physical activity, Karadzic replied: "I regularly engage physically, I go for a walk, I play tennis and so on..."

Preceding Judge O-Gon Kwon said the trial chamber could conclude "with relief" that Karadzic had recovered from the surgery and that he pays "major significance" to his health. Regarding the detention system, the judge said he noticed it "functions" and told Karadzic that trial chamber is not in charge of it, so that he should refer to the detention administration and court registry.

Karadzic, the former president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and several other municipalities, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across the country, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The first-instance verdict in his case is expected in December.

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