30 Aug 2008

Karadzic refuses war crimes pleas

5:59 am on 30 August 2008

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has refused to enter a plea to charges of war crimes at the United Nations tribunal in The Hague.

A tribunal judge on Friday entered a plea of not guilty to all charges on his behalf, in line with the rules of the court.

Karadzic faces 11 charges, including genocide, relating to the 1990s Bosnian civil war.

He was arrested in the Serbian capital Belgrade in July after 13 years on the run, living under a false name.

Facing the tribunal for the second time since his arrest, and looking calm and composed, Mr Karadzic said it was a "court of NATO" which had as its aim his "liquidation".

The charges include what is regarded as Europe's worst massacre since World War II - the killing of up to 8,000 men and youths in the enclave of Srebrenica.

There will be a further hearing on 17 September. No trial date has been set.

Judge Iain Bonomy entered the plea of not guilty after the defendant declined to hear all the charges against him individually.

He claims the trial against him is illegal because under the terms of a deal made with former US peace envoy Richard Holbrooke, he was offered immunity from prosecution. The claims have been ridiculed by Mr Holbrooke.