Former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic refused to enter pleas March 3 to 11 amended charges including genocide and crimes against humanity in a hearing before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Last month, the ICTY granted in part the prosecution’s motion to amend the indictment against Karadzic. When asked by Judge Iain Bonhomy whether he pleaded guilty or not guilty on the first charge of genocide, Karadzic responded that he would not enter pleas because he believes the court has no right to try him. Bonhomy then entered on Karadzic’s behalf not guilty pleas for all 11 charges.
Karadzic has previously refused to enter pleas, with the judge issuing not guilty pleas on his behalf. Karadzic faces 11 charges 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. Karadzic was originally indicted by the ICTY in 1995, but had been in hiding under an assumed identity until his arrest last year. (Jurist, March 4)
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Did US promise Karadzic immunity?
A member of the US team negotiating to remove the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic from power in 1996 said that he was never promised immunity from prosecution as part of a deal to step down, contradicting several accounts cited in an article in the New York Times. Philip S. Goldberg, who was on the team led by Richard C. Holbrooke, issued a statement saying that “at no time during the negotiations in Belgrade or elsewhere in the region was an immunity agreement made or contemplated.” The Times article reported that a new study published by Purdue University found that Karadzic had been promised that he would not be pursued by the war crimes tribunal at The Hague if he left politics. Several people cited anonymously in the study were also interviewed by the Times. (NYT, March 25)
The Purdue University study, “Confronting the Yugoslav Controversies: A Scholars’ Initiative,” says that Holbrooke “instructed his principal assistant, Christopher Hill, to draft the memorandum to be signed by Karadzic,” committing him to give up power. Charles W. Ingrao, the study’s co-editor, said that three senior State Department officials, one of them retired, and several other people with knowledge of Holbrooke’s activities told him of the immunity offer. Ingrao said that Holbrooke used Slobodan Milosevic, then the Serbian leader, and other Serbian officials as intermediaries to convey the immunity offer. (NYT, March 22)