AMSTERDAM - Yugoslavia tribunal judges ordered legal counsel for former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and adjourned his trial until March 2010 to give the new defense lawyers time to prepare.
Karadzic has been acting as his own attorney and has been boycotting the trial which charges him with some of Europe's worst atrocities since World War Two.
Karadzic can continue to represent himself, but will have to work with the appointed lawyer, according to the ruling by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
If he continues to boycott the trial or engage in any other conduct that obstructs the proper and expeditious conduct of trial, he will forfeit his right to self-representation and the appointed lawyer will take over, Presiding Judge O-Gon Kwon said in the court order.
The Trial Chamber encourages the Accused to discuss his defense and cooperate fully with the appointed counsel, so that he or she can make the most effective use of time available for preparation, the South Korean judge said.
Judges had warned Karadzic, who has denied his 11 war crimes charges from the 1992-95 Bosnian war, that they would take this step if he persisted in refusing to attend the trial, but he had argued for more time.
The charges against Karadzic include the 43-month siege of Sarajevo that began 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.
In the three days of proceedings thus far, prosecutors have described Karadzic as a supreme commander who led a genocidal campaign to make Bosnian Muslims disappear from the face of the earth and pursued a campaign of ethnic cleansing during the war.
Two of the charges are for genocide and one holds him responsible for the death of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the village of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Karadzic, 64, led Serbs who tried to carve the Serb Republic out of Bosnia during the break-up of Yugoslavia.
Captured in July 2008 after 11 years on the run, Karadzic has fought the judges throughout pre-trial proceedings, claiming immunity from prosecution and asking for 10 extra months to prepare for trial, both of which were denied.
A psychiatrist before becoming president of the self-proclaimed Republica Srpska, Karadzic stepped down from power in 1996 and went into hiding until he was captured last year, bearded and disguised as an alternative healer in Belgrade.
Marko Sladojevic, one of Karadzic's legal advisers, said his client would decide next week whether to appeal the court's decision, and indicated that they would try to come up with a constructive response.
(Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)