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Former Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic renews ICTY immunity claim

[JURIST] Former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic [ICTY materials; JURIST news archive] on Monday filed a motion [text, PDF] renewing his claim that that International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] should drop charges against him because of a deal he made with former US ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke [PBS profile]. Karadzic has claimed that Holbrooke promised him immunity [JURIST report] from prosecution if he voluntarily left power in 1996. Karadzic alleged there were two first hand witnesses to the agreement, former Bosnian Serb assembly speaker Momcilo Krajisnik [ICTY backgrounder; JURIST report] and foreign minister Aleksa Buha, and asked the court to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter. He also argued that even if Holbrooke lacked actual authority to make the deal, that Karadzic reasonably relied on his apparent authority to do so, and that it should be honored. 

In April 2009, the appeals chamber of the ICTY upheld a December 2008 ruling that there was no valid immunity deal [JURIST report] between Karadzic and Holbrooke, and that even if such an agreement had existed, it would not be valid under international law. Holbrooke has denied Karadzic's allegations and prosecutors say they have found no documents that verify any such deal existed. Karadzic has twice refused to enter pleas [JURIST report] to 11 charges against him, including genocide, murder, persecution, deportation, and "other inhumane acts," for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, including the 1995 Srebrenica massacre [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Karadzic was originally indicted [indictment text] by the ICTY in 1995, but had been in hiding under an assumed identity until his arrest last year [JURIST report].

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