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Updated: October 17, 2009 18:12 IST

Karadzic asks for U.N. trial exemption

AP
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Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in the courtroom to enter pleas to 11 charges including genocide and crimes against humanity, at the U.N. Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands on August 29, 2008.
AP Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in the courtroom to enter pleas to 11 charges including genocide and crimes against humanity, at the U.N. Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands on August 29, 2008.

Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is requesting that the U.N. Security Council pass a resolution exempting him from trial at the U.N.’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, insisting he was promised immunity by an American envoy.

In a letter to the president of the U.N. Security Council, made available to The Associated Press on Saturday, Karadzic reiterated his claim that U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke cut a deal in 1996 with him to leave politics in exchange for immunity from prosecution by the Netherlands-based court.

Mr. Holbrooke, now a State Department special envoy, has repeatedly denied cutting such a deal with Karadzic, and tribunal judges said that even if it was true, it would not bind them.

The tribunal’s appeals panel this week rejected Karadzic’s claims and the court’s judges set the start of the trial for October 26.

Karadzic faces 11 charges including two counts of genocide for allegedly masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including relentless shelling of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, and the slaughter of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica — the worst carnage in Europe since World War II.

In the Friday letter, Karadzic insisted he made the deal with Mr. Holbrooke who, he said, acted in the name of the U.N. and the international community.

“On 12 October 2009, the Appeals Chamber of (The Hague) tribunal ruled that the agreement with Mr. Holbrooke was not effective without a resolution from the Security Council,” Karadzic said in the letter. “Therefore, I would appreciate that you would enact such a resolution.”

Karadzic was arrested in July 2008 in Belgrade, disguised behind a bushy beard and thick glasses and was posing as a New Age healer. He claimed that Mr. Holbrooke had in 1996 briefed the Security Council about the deal and that the U.N. body has records of the agreement.

“I kept my part of the agreement, dutifully resigned my position, and withdrew from public life,” Karadzic wrote. “Initially the agreement was honoured by the international community. I moved about Bosnia freely despite the presence of (international peacekeeping) troops in the country.”

“However, after my arrest in 2008, the (U.N. tribunal) has refused to honour the agreement I made with Mr. Holbrooke,” Karadzic said.

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