Like a ghost from the past, former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic was to have gone on trial in The Hague this week before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
But emulating the resistance to court shown by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Mr. Karadzic chose not to appear in court Monday or Tuesday. He intends to defend himself, and thereby seeks to delay the proceedings by claiming he has more than a million pages of testimony to review before appearing for trial. (Mr. Milosevic played his own delay game and died in 2006 before the tribunal ruled on the charges against him.)
The court has said that if Mr. Karadzic doesn't appear in court, it will appoint a lawyer for him and proceed with the trial anyway. This is a milquetoast approach to Mr. Karadzic's recalcitrance.
The court is going far too easy on the defendant, given the 11-count indictment that includes genocide and crimes against humanity. Events in evidence, including the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica, involve the deaths of up to 20,000 people. Most of the world would not consider it inhumane to see Mr. Karadzic in court in chains, given the charges against him.
While the trial is getting under way, there is the bigger question of the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina nearly 14 years after the war and after a new government structure was installed in negotiations led by Richard Holbrooke, now U.S. special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the government that he and three presidents - Mr. Milosevic of Serbia, Franjo Tudjman of Croatia and Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina - devised, still isn't doing very well. The country's Serbs, Croats and Muslims are not working together, and it is not prospering in spite of many expensive U.S. and European efforts.
Whether in court or back home, this has become an unsatisfying affair.