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ICTY again rejects Karadzic 'immunity' claim

[JURIST] The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) [official website] on Wednesday rejected [decision, PDF] an immunity claim [motion, PDF] brought by war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic [ICTY materials; JURIST news archive], citing irrelevance between a possible immunity deal and his trial. The decision to reject the claims follows Karadzic's recent renewal [JURIST report] of his immunity defense in which he claims that war crimes charges against him should be dropped because of an apparent deal he made with former US ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke. Karadzic requested an evidentiary hearing on the claims, maintaining that Holbrooke offered him immunity from prosecution if he voluntary left power in 1996 and that there were two witnesses to the agreement. The court ruled that Karadzic had failed to show that Holbrooke had acted with the authority of the UN Security Council and that there was an abuse of process in the proceedings. Holbrooke has denied the allegations of an immunity deal and prosecutors have found no documents to verify the existence of any such deal. Earlier this year, the appellate chamber of the ICTY upheld a December 2008 ruling [JURIST report], which declared that no immunity deal existed and that even if there was such an agreement, it would not be valid under international law.

In June, the ICTY said that Karadzic's trial would start in late August [JURIST report], estimating that it will conclude in early 2012. His trial is planned to be the tribunal's last. 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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