While the judges opted to impose a lawyer on Karadzic, who has boycotted his trial since it started on October 26, they did not strip him of the right to conduct his own defence and effectively gave him more time to prepare - exactly what he was after.
"This is an indirect way of giving Karadzic a bit more time to prepare his case," while trying to minimise further interruptions, Willem van Genugten, international law professor at the Netherlands' Tilburg University, told AFP.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Thursday ordered the imposition of a defence lawyer on Karadzic and adjourned his genocide trial to March 1, 2010.
Karadzic, 64, has refused to attend his trial since it opened in The Hague nearly two weeks ago, insisting on more time to prepare his defence, which he is conducting himself with the backing of about 20 legal advisers, many of them volunteers.
Karadzic stands charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the 1992-95 Bosnian war in which some 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes.
The judges warned that Karadzic would lose his right to self-representation should he continue his boycott when the trial resumes in which case the court-assigned lawyer would take over.
"After several warnings (ignored by Karadzic), the tribunal had to send out a serious message if it didn't want to lose credibility," said Professor Van Genugten.
In Thursday's decision the judges said Karadzic had "substantially and persistently obstructed" the proceedings and "effectively brought the trial to a halt".
There have only been two days of trial hearings to date, both used for the opening statement of the prosecutor who urged the court not to allow Karadzic's antics to dictate the trial schedule.
"The judges were looking for a compromise to end the impasse," said Harmen van der Wilt, international law professor at the University of Amsterdam.
"They had to show that they retain the control, that they won't be held hostage, all the while trying to cooperate with the accused," he said.
According to Xavier Tracol, a former ICTY prosecutor, Karadzic "has won a battle but not the war".
"His objective is to hold the tribunal hostage. Winning time is one way of achieving that."
Karadzic, who denies all charges, risks life in jail on accusations that he orchestrated the mass killing of Muslims and Croats in pursuit of a "Greater Serbia" that was to include 60 per cent of Bosnia's territory.
Marko Sladojevic, one of Karadzic's legal advisers, said that his client had not yet decided whether he would appeal but would "take a constructive approach and will try to find a compromise that will satisfy all sides involved".
Arrested on a Belgrade bus in July last year after 13 years on the run, Karadzic faces charges over the massacre of 7000 Muslims at Srebrenica and the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that killed some 10,000 people.
"I am glad that they imposed a lawyer, on him, I hope it will prevent him to manipulate the trial," Srebrenica survivor Munira Subasic told AFP.
"It is painful for us to see how his every wish is granted, almost as if they fear not to hurt his feelings. But we will continue to fight for justice, we will testify against him, we will pursue justice with all available means."
Karadzic's trial is expected to continue until 2012, while any appeals have to be finalised by 2013.
Source: The Australian