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Defiant Karadzic refuses to plead

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Radavan Karadzic: 'I'm not going to enter a plea at all'

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has again refused to enter a plea at a UN tribunal at The Hague, where he is facing war crime charges.

The re-drafted indictment includes 11 charges - two of genocide and nine of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors have reduced the number of locations covered, which they hope will speed up the trial process.

Mr Karadzic's refusal to plead prompted the court judges to lodge an automatic plea of not guilty on his behalf.

Appearing before the court, Mr Karadzic said he was "not going to enter a plea at all".

"This tribunal does not have the right to try me," he said.

Judge Iain Bonomy responded that he would enter a not guilty plea for Mr Karadzic on all 11 counts.

Immunity claim

Mr Karadzic also restated his claim that he had been offered immunity by US diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated the accord that ended the Bosnian war in 1995.

Judge Iain Bonhomy in The Hague - image from ICTY (03/03/2009)
Judge Iain Bonhomy entered a plea of not guilty on Mr Karadzic's behalf
"I am challenging the jurisdiction of this tribunal on the basis of my agreement with the international community whose representative at that point in time was Mr Richard Holbrooke," he told the court.

"I am defending a principle here; that wars cannot be concluded and peace agreements cannot be signed by deceit," Mr Karadzic said.

He was interrupted by Mr Bonomy, who told Mr Karadzic he would "have the opportunity to deal with that issue in due course".

Last year, Mr Holbrooke dismissed Mr Karadzic's claim of an immunity deal as "laughable".

Mr Karadzic was arrested in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, last year after more than a decade in hiding.

The main allegations against Mr Karadzic arise from his political leadership of the Bosnian Serbs in the conflicts of the 1990s that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Srebrenica massacre

Specifically, Mr Karadzic is indicted for alleged involvement in the siege of Sarajevo and the massacre in Srebrenica, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, in which several thousand Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were killed.

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 amendment of the charges offered him another opportunity to enter a plea before the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

When he first appeared at The Hague after his capture in July 2008, Mr Karadzic refused to enter a plea, saying he would wait until prosecutors had finalised all the charges they wanted to bring.

This refusal also resulted in an automatic not-guilty plea being entered on his behalf.

Genocide is regarded as the worst crime in international law but is very difficult to prove because of the requirement to show intent, correspondents say.

The Hague tribunal has so far convicted only one person on genocide-related charges - a Bosnian Serb commander, Radislav Krstic, who was found guilty in 2004.

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Asian Age Karadzic refuses to enter plea on genocide - 3 hrs ago
Boston Globe Court charges Sudan leader - 5 hrs ago
Washington PostU.N. Tribunal Clears Serbia's Ex-President - 9 hrs ago
Telegraph Radovan Karadzic refuses to enter plea - 29 hrs ago
The Scotsman You can't try me, says Serb leader - 34 hrs ago
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