Image: Richard Holbrooke
Fehim Demir  /  EPA file
U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke, in Sarajevo in 1996 for peace talks, says he never made a deal to block Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic's prosecution for war crimes.
updated 8/6/2008 8:52:12 PM ET 2008-08-07T00:52:12

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic applied Wednesday to the U.N. war crimes tribunal to summon three former U.S. officials and a former prosecutor to support his claim that he was offered an immunity deal.

Karadzic, who is charged with genocide and war crimes, petitioned the court to call former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her envoy Richard Holbrooke to testify about an agreement he claims he struck in 1996 to quietly leave Bosnian politics and “disappear.”

Because the U.S. violated the deal, “I wish to challenge the legality of the proceedings in their entirety as well as any individual step thereof,” Karadzic wrote.

He also sought to call Richard Goldstone, a former chief war crimes prosecutor, and the U.S. special adviser to the prosecutor, William Stuebner, to testify that the State Department requested to have the indictment against Karadzic suspended.

Goldstone threatened to resign if the hunt for Karadzic was called off, Karadzic said.

Last week, Holbrooke repeated his denial of Karadzic’s account, calling “it an invented story” that no one should believe.

The former president of the wartime Bosnian Serb ministate is defending himself in pretrial proceedings in The Hague. At his first court appearance on July 31, he declined to enter pleas to the 11 counts against him, opting to wait until the next hearing set for August 29.

Karadzic was arrested July 21 in Belgrade, 13 years after Goldstone indicted him and more than a decade after he dropped out of sight, evading a massive NATO-led manhunt. He is charged with genocide for the slaughter of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim males in Srebrenica in July 1995 and for the unrelenting 44-month siege of Sarajevo.

Karadzic said the United States has created an “atmosphere in which acquittal is not probable.”

In separate applications to the court released Wednesday, Karadzic asked to see all the warrants authorizing searches for him during his years as a fugitive, and the orders to freeze his assets.

According to the four-page submission, Holbrooke said Karadzic should “completely disappear from the public arena,” which included a ban on press interviews. In exchange, “Holbrooke undertook on behalf of the U.S. that I would not be tried before this tribunal.”

At the same time, he said, Albright told his successor as Bosnian Serb president, Biljana Plavsic, “that I get out of the way” and go into voluntary exile.

Albright, who struck up a friendship with Plavsic while she led the Bosnian Serb territory created under the Dayton peace agreement, testified in Plavsic’s war crimes trial in 2002.

Karadzic said his deal with Holbrooke fell apart when a Greek journalist published an account of a conversation with a Greek parliament member, portraying it as an interview.

He said Bosnian intelligence services later detected “aggressive” preparations by international forces. “The intention to liquidate me was obvious,” he said, adding that he still feared for his life even in the U.N. jail outside The Hague.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic wants the U.N. war crimes tribunal to summon three former U.S. officials and a former prosecutor to support his claim that he was offered an immunity deal.

Karadzic has petitioned the court to call former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her envoy Richard Holbrooke to testify about an agreement he claims he struck in 1996 to quietly leave Bosnian politics and "disappear." He also sought to call a former chief war crimes prosecutor, and the U.S. special adviser to the prosecutor.

Last week, Holbrooke again denied Karadzic's account, calling it "an invented story."

Karadzic, who is charged with genocide and war crimes, is defending himself in pretrial proceedings in The Hague. He has declined to enter pleas.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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