(AFP) – Aug 1, 2008
THE HAGUE (AFP) — Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic claimed Friday the United States wanted him dead after reneging on a deal to shield him from trial by the UN war crimes court.
In a submission to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Karadzic said the US peace negotiator in Bosnia, Richard Holbrooke, had promised he would avoid trial if he withdrew from public life.
"Mr Holbrooke undertook on behalf of the USA that I would not be tried before this tribunal," Karadzic said in the written submission made public by the ICTY.
It was the same document he had been prevented from reading out during his first court appearance on Thursday.
Holbrooke has insisted that no such deal existed.
Karadzic, who was captured on July 21, said Holbrooke's offer was made in 1996 to "the statesmen and ministers who were my authorised representatives."
In return, Karadzic said he was expected to "completely disappear" from the public arena, "in a word, become invisible long enough for the Dayton agreement to be implemented in full."
He said former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had furthermore proposed to Biljana Plavsic, the president of the Bosnian Serb republic, "that I get out of the way and go to Russia, Greece or Serbia and open a private clinic."
Karadzic said he tried to meet his end of the deal, but it later became apparent there were attempts to have him killed.
"It is clear that, unable to fulfill the commitments he had undertaken on behalf of the USA, he (Holbrooke) switched to Plan B -- the liquidation of Radovan Karadzic.
"The agreement, which should have brought me peace and freedom, thus became a source of great danger to my life, and to the life and safety of my family and even my friends."
Karadzic said Holbrooke's desire that he should disappear was "fresher and stronger" than ever.
"I do not know how long the arm of Mr Holbrooke or Mrs Albright is ... or whether that arm can reach me here," he added.
Holbrooke, credited with the Dayton peace agreement that ended Bosnia's bloody 1992-95 war, rejected Karadzic's claims in an interview with CNN on Thursday.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who helped mediate an end to the Balkans conflict, has also denied the allegations.
"Such a deal never existed, he told Swedish public radio Friday.
"Both Holbrooke and I were actively involved (in the 1990s) ... in an attempt to get NATO to intervene to have him arrested."
Karadzic said that after initial attempts to kill him, he had decided to present himself to the tribunal.
But he claimed he was misled when tribunal officials, who came to his hometown of Pale to seize evidence, turned out to be from the office of the ICTY prosecutor "who had fooled us and rummaged through our archives without legal protection."
It then became apparent he would not have a fair trial, claimed Karadzic, adding that he found himself in a "lynch atmosphere."
"Everything takes place in an atmosphere in which, regardless of what truths may be demonstrated in this room, no-one on earth believes in the possibility of an acquittal."
He claimed "irregularities" in his capture last month after more than a decade on the run, saying he was kidnapped and held captive for 74 hours before being handed over to authorities.
And he said he was the victim of a media witch-hunt that has pre-judged him a war criminal, to the jeopardy of his eventual trial.
Karadzic has indicated he will defend himself at trial and experts have said he will try to make it a political showcase.
His lawyer said Friday he was seeking the return of a laptop containing Karadzic's entire defence from Serbian authorities.
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