World

Nobody believes I'll be acquitted, Radovan Karadzic laments

Radovan Karadzic, the wartime Bosnian Serb leader accused of genocide, says he cannot get a fair trial because of a "lynch atmosphere in the media and in public" and a universal belief he will be found guilty.

Facing genocide charges, ex-Bosnian Serb leader talks of lynch mood

Radovan Karadzic, the wartime Bosnian Serb leader accused of genocide, says he cannot get a fair trial because of a "lynch atmosphere in the media and in public" and a universal belief he will be found guilty.

Handling his own defence before a United Nations war crimes tribunal, Karadzic portrays himself as the victim of a witch hunt orchestrated by Muslims, U.S. diplomats, UN prosecutors and others.

"What regularity can I expect when everything takes place in an atmosphere in which, regardless of what truths may be demonstrated in this room, no one on earth believes in the possibility of an acquittal?" he asks in a four-page submission to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

He filed the document Thursday; the tribunal made it public Friday with an English translation.

Karadzic, a psychiatrist by training, evaded trial for nearly 13 years. He was transferred to the tribunal's custody in The Hague Wednesday after being arrested in Serbia, where he sported a flowing beard and passed himself off as practitioner of alternative medicine.

He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, wilful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts and other crimes against Muslim, Croat and other non-Serb civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war.

The most notorious allegation involves the killing of as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995, Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War.

In the document, he complains of a witch hunt that "began in the Muslim media even before the beginning of the armed conflict and proclaimed me a war criminal at a time when the only victims were Serbs. The international media continued that witch hunt and I was not in a position to reply adequately so that it is now unimaginable to many people that this court could acquit me."

As he tells it, he was unable to clear his name after a U.S.-brokered peace deal because American officials made him agree to drop out of public life.

Citing information from "our intelligence services," he asserts that international forces, presumably meaning NATO-led peacekeepers, then set out to kill him.

The intelligence services "noted many aggressive actions by international forces in places from which I had just departed. These actions were clearly organized in order suddenly to liquidate someone, not at all to arrest him," he says.

He came to mistrust the tribunal, he says, partly because "one of the chief prosecutors had said in public with undoubted certainty that I would undoubtedly get a life sentence. She did not say she would seek it, but that I would get it."

He apparently referred to either Carla del Ponte of Switzerland or Canada's Louise Arbour, a former Supreme Court justice who served as UN high commissioner for human rights after prosecuting war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

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