UN war crimes trial of Karadžić to start later this month after appeal rejection

14 October 2009
ICTY courtroom

The genocide trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić before the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the 1990s Balkan conflicts will start on 26 October at the latest after the rejection of his appeal that he enjoys immunity through an earlier deal with United States officials.

Mr. Karadžić was appealing the rejection in July by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of his claim to immunity from prosecution due to an agreement he says he struck in 1996 with US officials led by Richard Holbrooke.

He claimed he had been assured immunity from any subsequent war crimes prosecution if he gave up politics and withdrew from public life. Mr. Holbrooke has denied making such an agreement, and the ICTY ruled in July that Mr. Karadžić could not show that any such agreement was arranged under the authority of the UN Security Council, which set up the tribunal to handle the cases of the worst atrocities in the wars.

“Even if the alleged agreement were proved, it would not limit the jurisdiction of the tribunal, it would not otherwise be binding on the tribunal and it would not trigger the doctrine of abuse of process,” the ICTY’s appeals chamber said on Monday. But it added that Mr. Karadžić may present during the course of his trial evidence supporting the allegations, which could be considered for the purpose of sentencing.

After more than a decade as a fugitive, Mr. Karadžić – who served as the president of Republika Srpska and commander of Bosnian Serb forces during part of the 1990s – was arrested a year ago and transferred to The Hague to stand trial on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportations, inhumane acts and other crimes.


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