US wants me dead: Karadzic
Saturday, 02 August 2008

AFP, THE HAGUE - 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 in return for withdrawing 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, and refrain from giving interviews or publishing any works.

"In a word, become invisible long enough for the Dayton agreement to be implemented in full," he said.

Holbrooke also allegedly promised that Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party would not be prohibited from taking part in elections.

Karadzic said former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had proposed to Biljana Plavsic, the president of Bosnian Serb republic, "that I get out of the way and go to Russia, Greece or Serbia and open a private clinic."
He 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, also denied the allegations.

"Such a deal never existed. There has not been any attempt to drop the charges" against Karadzic, 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. This failed, but that is another story," Bildt said.

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 investigators from the tribunal, 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 clear to me that I could not come before the tribunal because the conditions for a fair trial would not be met"

He also detailed "irregularities" with his eventual capture last month.

"Unknown civilians showed me a badge so quickly that I could not identify it, took me out of a public transport vehicle and held me in an unknown place for 74 hours," states the document -- after which he was handed to authorities.

Karadzic has indicated he will defend himself at the trial and experts have said he will try to make it a political showcase.

His lawyer said Friday he was seeking the return of laptop containing Karadzic's entire defence from Serbian authorities.

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