ROAR: “Holbrooke should clarify possible deal with Karadzic”
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic says all charges against him should be dropped because he “was offered immunity” in 1996 by Richard Holbrooke, who was the US mediator in Bosnia.
“He for a long time insisted that he has immunity from criminal prosecution, promised to him for leaving political scene by US diplomat Richard Holbrooke,” Novye Izvestia said.
Holbrooke, who is now a special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under the current US administration, insists there was no agreement with Karadzic, the paper said.
The court in The Hague has not received the documented evidence of the existence of this agreement, and has refused to grant Karadzic immunity from prosecution, Lenta.ru said.
However, even if the fact of the agreement with Holbrooke was confirmed, this “would not save Karadzic from criminal prosecution, because only the UN Security Council may defend someone from the tribunal’s activities,” the website added.
Political scientist Vitaly Tretyakov asked in his blog why Holbrooke was not summoned to court. He could confirm “on oath that he did not give any guarantees to Karadzic,” Tretyakov said.
“And why there is no tribunal for Iraq?” Tretyakov asked. “In any case, there was an unprovoked aggression against a small country that led to hundreds of thousands victims only among civilians,” the analyst added.
Karadzic failed to appear for the start of his trial on war crimes and genocide charges at The Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on October 26.
He also says he needs nine more months to prepare his defense against charges of war atrocities, including the massacre of some 7,000 Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. Karadzic insists he is innocent of the allegations brought against him.
Prosecutors say that 15 months were enough for Karadzic to prepare for the trial. According to the tribunal’s charter, the defendant may be delivered to the court by force, Lenta.ru website said. The previous famous man accused by the institution was former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic, who died in 2006 before his sentence was delivered.
Karadzic lived over 11 years in hiding in Serbia before he was detained by Serbian law-enforcement agencies in July 2008. His arrest was welcomed by the West and victims of the Bosnian war.
The 64-year-old former politician is defending himself, but the prosecution insists that professional lawyers should defend him. The Hague’s tribunal is afraid that the process will be protracted, repeating the cases of other former Serbian politicians, Slobodan Milosevic and Vojislav Seselj, Novye Izvestia daily said.
Gazeta.ru website wrote that the process would be protracted even if lawyers defended Karadzic, because they should also have time to familiarize themselves with the case.
Alla Yazkova, head of the Center for Mediterranean and Black Sea Problems at the Institute of Europe, believes that Karadzic wants to protract the trial until the authorities of the tribunal expires.
His boycott means that “he will not answer questions nor will he be making different political statements,” Yazkova told Vesti.ru. However, it is difficult to say what will actually happen, she said.
Relatives of victims of the war, who consider Karadzic and [his army chief throughout the Bosnian war] Ratko Mladic responsible for the killings “plan to stage a permanent rally in The Hague,” the analyst said. These activities may influence the tribunal’s decision which is expected to be delivered in 2012.
Yazkova added that the tribunal “released” several representatives of Kosovo’s Albanians, who had also been accused of military crimes. “That means that special attention is paid to Serbia,” Yazkova said. “The tribunal in The Hague, as before, considers Serbia the most responsible for military crimes that were committed in the 1990s.”
“As for Karadzic, his guilt seems to be on the surface,” Yazkova said, “because he, and Mladic in particular, managed mass deportations.” But Karadzic himself “will deny everything,” she added.
Yazkova believes that Serbian generals “will defend their colleague” despite the fact that the country’s leadership would like to “close this problem for good. The public discussion about this issue is an additional irritant in Serbian society,” she told Rosbalt news agency.
Russia has no influence in this case, Yazkova stressed. Moscow is cooperating with the Serbian government, which handed over Karadzic to the tribunal. On the other hand, many Serbian businessmen who work in Russia support Karadzic, the analyst added.
Meanwhile, former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic will be released from a Swedish prison on October 27. She was sentenced to 11-year term for war crimes in the 1990s by the international tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Now a Swedish court has allowed her early release for good behavior after she has served two-thirds of her term. During the civil war in Bosnia she was Karadzic’s ally.
Georgy Engelgardt, analyst at the Institute of Slavic Studies told Ekspert magazine that accusations against Karadzic are mainly based on Plavsic’s statements. He added that Karadzic’s perspectives are not positive because the tribunal considers not only military activities, but the whole political struggle of Bosnian Serbs “as a big criminal conspiracy.”
Sergey Borisov, RT