Karadzic declines to enter plea at war cime tribunal (Lead)

August 29th, 2008 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

The Hague, Aug 29 (DPA) Former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, Friday refused to enter pleas on all 11 counts of charges against him at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.Karadzic, 63, was told by the judge that pleas of not guilty would be entered by the tribunal on his behalf, in accordance with court rules. A next session was set for Sep 17.

The war crime accused implicitly rejected the jurisdiction of the court, dismissing it as “a court of NATO, which is aiming to liquidate me”.

Asked by Judge Iain Bonomy if he intended to enter a plea on the first of the 11 counts, one of genocide, Karadzic said: “I will not plead, in line with my standpoint to this court.”

Asked then if this applied to all 11 counts, Karadzic said: “absolutely”.

The indictment includes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, relating among other things to involvement in an attempt to destroy in whole or in part the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat ethnic groups.

Karadzic is alleged to have known about crimes, including the killing of thousands of civilians in Srebrenica in 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces, and the shelling of Sarajevo, killing and terrorising the city’s civilians.

Friday’s session came a month after Karadzic first appeared and requested a 30-day postponement to study the indictment. The court heard Friday that he had presented three written observations on the indictment, and these would be dealt with in pre-trial session.

Last week, the ICTY transferred the trial to another trial chamber. The court said this would divide the workload more evenly among the chambers.

The decision came just days after Karadzic asked the court to take Dutch judge Alphons Orie off the case, claiming the judge would not be neutral.

Karadzic had been on the run for some 12 years before his arrest on in Belgrade July 21. Serbian authorities extradited him to The Hague July 30.

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