KARADZIC-HOLBROOKE IMMUNITY DEAL RULED INVALID
Editor’s Note: This is a photo of a former Bosnian Serb leader who attempted to exterminate Muslims of Bosnia. “These people will disappear from the face of the Earth!” – Radovan Karadzic said in 1991. Take a look at photos of his victims in Serb-run concentration camps in Bosnia.
A U.N.-backed court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague (Netherlands), ruled Thursday the former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic cannot claim immunity for war crimes and genocide he has insisted was offered to him by the United States diplomat Richard Holbrooke. In 2007, Richard Holbrooke described the Karadzic’s allegation as an “outrageous lie” and said he was “astonished that people would believe a war criminal over the word of the United States or people who brought peace to the Balkans.”
According to a panel of UN judges, an immunity deal Radovan Karadzic claims he made with a US peace envoy would not prevent the former Bosnian Serb leader’s trial on charges including genocide. Karadzic has repeatedly claimed Richard Holbrooke offered him a deal in 1996 to relinquish power in return for immunity from prosecution at the ICTY. However, such a deal “would be invalid under international law” judges said.
Radovan Karadzic faces 11 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The worst crimes on his indictment include the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, in which 8,000 to 10,000 people – men, children, and elderly – died in a matter of days, while more than 20,000 people were forcibly deported from the Enclave in a UN-assisted ethnic cleansing, as well as the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which more than 10,000 civilians died, including more than 1,500 children.
Hague Tribunal spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said that what’s important in judges decision is that even if an agreement between Richard Holbrooke and Radovan Karadzic exists, it would have no significance for a person charged with genocide and war crimes or crimes aganst humanity before an international court. “Quite simply, that kind of immunity cannot be given, particularly not in the context of the Tribunal. No body, not even the prosecution, can make agreements on behalf of the Tribunal,” she said.
He was arrested late July 21, 2008; however, some reports place the timing of his arrest on July 18. Despite Karadzic’s allegations of immunity, he went to great lengths to avoid arrest during his 13 years on the run.
He lived in Belgrade disguised behind a white beard and long hair, living and working as a practitioner of alternative medicine, and freely walking in the city, attending events, traveling, and even giving public speeches. He also used false documents under the name of Dragan Dabic (aka: Dragan David Dabic).
He enjoyed complete freedom, all thanks to the help of Dragan Karadzic, son of Radovan’s brother Luka who is a radical Serb ultra-nationalist with close ties to the Serbian Radical Party. He also kept in touch with his wife Ljiljana Zelen–Karadzic. None of the above named individuals were charged with the crime of helping Radovan Karadzic evade justice for 13 years.
The picture below features Radovan Karadzic’s “business card” promoting his “alternative medicine” business. The photo was taken on July 22, 2008 in Belgrade, a day after Karadzic was officially arrested on genocide charges late July 21, 2008. The Cyrillic writing reads: “Quantum, spiritual, energetic medicine, reiki” and “Support in health and illness.” You can see more photos of Karadzic in disguise at this link.
“I believe my office will be able to put forward strong evidence that will unequivocally prove Karadzic’s responsibility, though it’ll be up to the judges to decide whether or not he’s guilty,” ICTY’s Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz told Belgrade-based B92. “In a broader context, that means four crimes—the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia from 1992-95, the shelling and terrorizing of the peaceful population of Sarajevo, the genocide in Srebrenica, and using UN blue helmets as hostages.”
The ICTY hopes that indicted former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic will be arrested and extradited in time to be tried together with Radovan Karadzic. If Mladic arrives in The Hague prior to commencement of the Karadzic trial, the case against him could be promptly included in the proceeding against Karadzic which, according to Brammertz, would make the whole trial more efficient and is the only good solution. He said that the Tribunal’s work will be most probably extended up and including 2012, two years longer than anticipated. It is inconceivable that the UN SC will decide to close the Tribunal without letting us complete all the proceedings, said Brammertz.