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Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 14:14 UK

Karadzic denounces 'witch-hunt'

Radovan Karadzic appears at The Hague, 31 July 2008
Mr Karadzic said his arrest was accompanied by "drastic irregularities"

Radovan Karadzic has said a "media witch-hunt" means he will not receive a fair trial at a UN war crimes tribunal.

The former Bosnian Serb leader wrote to the tribunal saying he has already been branded a war criminal by the press, making an acquittal "unimaginable".

Mr Karadzic, who faces 11 counts of war crimes including genocide, also claims he made an immunity deal with the US.

Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated the accord that ended the Bosnian war, told the BBC: "There was never any deal."

Mr Karadzic referred to an alleged deal made with Mr Holbrooke, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, for him to withdraw from public life.

READ KARADZIC'S CLAIMS

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Mr Karadzic said he had tried to keep his side of the alleged deal, which he said was made in 1996, but it later became apparent there were attempts to "liquidate me".

"It is clear that, unable to fulfil the commitments he had undertaken on behalf of the USA, he (Holbrooke) switched to Plan B - the liquidation of Radovan Karadzic," he said.

'Media witch hunt'

In a document submitted to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on Thursday, and released by the tribunal on Friday, Mr Karadzic said his arrest had been "accompanied by many drastic irregularities".

THE INDICTMENT
Eleven counts of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities
Charged over shelling Sarajevo during the city's siege, in which some 12,000 civilians died
Allegedly organised the massacre of up to 8,000 Bosniak men and youths in Srebrenica
Targeted Bosniak and Croat political leaders, intellectuals and professionals
Unlawfully deported and transferred civilians because of national or religious identity
Destroyed homes, businesses and sacred sites

"The first irregularity I would mention is the media witch-hunt which began in the Muslim media even before the beginning of the armed conflict and which proclaimed me a war criminal at a time when the only victims were Serbs," he said.

He added: "It is now unimaginable to many people that this court could acquit me.

"I believe that this fact seriously jeopardises the trial itself."

Appearing before the court on Thursday, Mr Karadzic said he had decided to represent himself during his trial, but did not immediately enter a plea.

He was given 30 days to do so, and the tribunal judge adjourned the hearing until 29 August.

Deal claims

Claims that a deal with the US existed have been put forwarded by Mr Karadzic's supporters for some years.

But Mr Holbrooke told the BBC the claim of a deal was a "completely false story, put out by Karadzic after he disappeared from public life, and he was trying to justify himself... It's laughable."

There are alleged eyewitness accounts, but no smoking gun has been found

Mr Karadzic had remained president of the Bosnian Serb Republic (Republika Srpska) until 1996, despite having been indicted for war crimes the year before.

But his continued refusal to resign was overshadowing Bosnia's first post-war elections, which were approaching.

In July 1996, Mr Holbrooke announced in Belgrade that Mr Karadzic had been persuaded to step down.

"He will not appear in public, or on radio or television or other media or participate in any way in the elections," Mr Holbrooke said.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Karadzic went into hiding, not to reappear until his capture last month.

But Mr Holbrooke denies that immunity was ever part of the 1996 agreement.



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