Radovan Karadzic files motion challenging legitimacy of war crimes tribunal prosecuting him

Monday, November 30, 2009

Karadzic challenges war crimes court’s legitimacy

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Radovan Karadzic has filed a motion challenging the legitimacy of the U.N. war crimes tribunal prosecuting him for allegedly masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the Bosnian war.

In the motion released Monday, Karadzic claims the Security Council overstepped its powers when it created the court in 1993.

The decision to create the temporary tribunal, “was an erroneous interpretation of the meaning and scope of the established powers of the Security Council in order to vastly exceed them,” Karadzic wrote.

Prosecutors did not immediately respond to the former Bosnian Serb leader’s motion, the latest in a string of legal challenges he has mounted to standing trial.

He wrote the nearly 3,000-word motion, which cites Greek philosopher Aristotle and French political thinker Montesquieu, with the help of a Serbian academic, while also protesting that he does not have enough time to prepare his defense.

Karadzic boycotted the start of his trial in October, saying he needed more time to get ready to defend himself against 11 charges including two counts of genocide. He was arrested in July 2008, 13 years after he was indicted.

His trial is scheduled to resume March 1.

Karadzic has refused to enter pleas, but insists he is innocent of charges that he ordered atrocities including the shelling and sniping campaign that killed thousands of civilians in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, and the July 1995 massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men in the U.N.-protected Srebrenica enclave.

If convicted, the 64-year-old faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Judges have already rejected an earlier claim by Karadzic that the tribunal had no authority to try him because American peace envoy Richard Holbrooke had promised him immunity from prosecution in exchange for Karadzic dropping out of public life. Holbrooke, now President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, denies ever making such a deal.

Karadzic wrote in his latest motion that, regardless of the tribunal’s response, he “believes it his moral duty in the light of history and before the general public, to challenge the legal validity and legitimacy of this court.”

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