War crimes court to try Karadzic, rejects Holbrooke 'deal'

11th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

Karadzic claims that Holbrooke promised on behalf of the UN Security Council, which set up the court in The Hague, that he would enjoy immunity from prosecution in return for disappearing from the public eye.

The Hague -- The war crimes trial of Radovan Karadzic will go ahead as planned, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia said, refusing to be bound by an alleged immunity deal between the Bosnian Serb wartime leader and US negotiator Richard Holbrooke.

"The chamber does not accept the accused's contention that the tribunal is bound by the agreement" he claims to have made with Holbrooke -- architect of the Dayton peace accords that halted the Bosnian conflict -- in July 1965.

Karadzic claims that Holbrooke promised on behalf of the UN Security Council, which set up the court in The Hague, that he would enjoy immunity from prosecution in return for disappearing from the public eye.

Holbrooke, now US President Barack Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, has repeatedly denied making any such deal.

The court also said Wednesday that Karadzic had failed to establish that Holbrooke was acting with the Security Council's authority.

The court's ruling is in line with a submission made in June by the prosecution that "even if the alleged agreement exists... it could not be legally binding before this tribunal."

Karadzic, 64, was arrested in Belgrade in July last year after 13 years on the run. He faces 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, which he denies.

The tribunal already ruled last December that an immunity deal would not be binding and could not stop the prosecution.

Karadzic for his part claims to have 15 witnesses of the accord with Holbrooke, including former Bosnian Serb parliament speaker Momcilo Krajisnik and former Bosnian Serb foreign minister Aleksa Buha.

He also wants the court to hear Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, another former mediator in the Bosnian conflict, saying that he too can confirm the deal.

Karadazic's lawyer is to meet Bildt on July 14, the court said, adding that though it had made its ruling the talks could be useful.

UN judge Iain Bonomy said last week Karadzic's trial was unlikely to start before September.

The charges relate mainly to his role in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 people dead, and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica -- Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

AFP/Expatica

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