Bosnia war could have been avoided: Karadzic

December 29th, 2009 - 12:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Richard Holbrooke Belgrade, Dec 29 (IANS/AKI) Bosnia’s 1992-95 war could have been avoided, says wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
He Monday blamed Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic and foreign powers for triggering the conflict that killed at least 100,000 people.

In an interview with Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti, the first given to Serbian media in 13 years, Karadzic said the war was provoked by the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia and by Izetbegovic’s insistence on secession against the will of the second biggest group, the Serbs.

Karadzic is on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity at the UN’s Hague-based war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He is accused of 11 war crimes charges including a massacre of 8,000 Muslim civilians in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1999.

He said peace was at hand on several occasions, but Izetbegovic continued to vacillate under pressure from western powers and Muslim countries.

“When Izetbegovic embarked on the destruction of a common country, Yugoslavia, with the aim of subjugating Serbs in unitary Bosnia, we chose our legitimate way to secure our survival,” Karadzic said.

Serbs rebelled against Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia, triggering the bloody 1992-95 conflict in which Muslims suffered the biggest losses.

Karadzic repeated his earlier claims that he was offered immunity from prosecution by the former US Balkan envoy Richard Holbrooke, in return for quitting politics and public life, which he did in the mid-1990s.

Holbrooke has repeatedly denied the existence of such a deal, but Karadzic said that Holbrooke too was acting under pressure.

“I’m convinced that he would have fulfilled his promise if he could, but he doesn’t want to admit it now, which is not nice,” Karadzic said.

Karadzic said his defence at his trial would be based on “the largest possible amount of truth”.

“And the whole world will see that the truth is diametrically opposed to the picture which has been created,” Karadzic concluded.

Vecernje novosti didn’t say whether the interview was conducted in Karadzic’s jail cell in The Hague, by phone or by mail.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July last year where he had been living for 13 years under the assumed name of Dragan Dabic and posing as a new age faith healer.

He boycotted the opening of his trial in October, demanding more time to prepare his defence, which he is conducting himself.

Karadzic’s legal aide Peter Robinson told journalists in The Hague earlier this month that he had rejected British lawyer Richard Harvey, who was appointed by the tribunal to defend him.

–IANS/AKI

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