THE HAGUE (AFP) — Radovan Karadzic challenged the legality of his pending genocide trial Wednesday, urging a UN war crimes court to order evidence from former US diplomat Richard Holbrooke about an alleged secret deal.
In an updated submission to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the Bosnian Serb wartime leader claims the very existence of such an agreement invalidated his prosecution.
"I wish to challenge the legality of the proceedings in their entirety," reads the document provided Wednesday by the tribunal, into whose custody Karadzic was transferred last week.
"So that we may ascertain whether this case is legally tenable, I propose that you ... order that Richard Holbrooke appear before you and declare under oath whether or not there was such an agreement and whether the USA complied with its obligations from that agreement."
Karadzic repeated his allegation that the United States wanted him dead after reneging on a deal to shield him from trial by the ICTY.
He said Holbrooke, the US peace negotiator in Bosnia, had promised he would protect Karadzic from prosecution by the tribunal in return from disappearing from the public eye.
Holbrooke, credited with the Dayton peace agreement that ended Bosnia's bloody 1992-95 war, rejected Karadzic's claims in an interview with CNN last Thursday, when the Bosnian Serb leader made his first appearance in court after his July 21 detention.
Karadzic also repeated claims that former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright had made "offers ... concerning my immunity and desisting from prosecution".
But the United States reneged on the deal and turned its attention instead to efforts to "liquidate" him, alleged Karadzic.
He called on the court to order the appearance of Albright, ex-US diplomat William Stuebner and former ICTY prosecutor Richard Goldstone.
Stuebner and Goldstone should give evidence about alleged demands from the US State Department that the indictment against him be suspended, said Karadzic, adding that a video recording existed to support this claim.
The Serbian government should be ordered to submit the results of a probe conducted by the Special War Crimes Prosecutor's office in Serbia into whether such an agreement existed.
"Given the responsibility of the Trial Chamber to uphold lawfulness and legality of all judicial steps ... I request that you consider the present motion before proceeding further with the case," says the submission, signed off with a "Thank you".
Karadzic has indicated he will defend himself at the trial.
Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic had wanted a similar list of people brought before his genocide trial, with no success. They had included Holbrooke and Albright.
In two other, separate submissions to the ICTY, Karadzic requested a copy of orders to freeze his assets, and of warrants used to conduct searches in the tribunal's investigation of him.
"I need the copies of the warrants to prepare my defence."
Karadzic, 63, was arrested in Belgrade 13 years after the ICTY first issued an indictment against him over a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" during the Bosnian war in which 100,000 people died.
He faces 11 charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, including for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 dead, and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the UN-protected area of Srebrenica.
The trial is not due to start for several months.
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