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Karadzic loses key testimony with death of Holbrooke

12-15-2010 09:21 BJT

BELGRADE, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- The untimely death of veteran U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke has denied a key testimony for the war crimes trial of Radovan Karadzic, the former president of the Serb republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), reported the Serbian news agency Tanjug on Tuesday.

Holbrooke, who died on Monday, is regarded as the chief architect of the Dayton Peace Accords that brought a formal end to the bloody civil war in BiH. According to Kosta Cavoski, a legal professor and member of Karadzic's defense team, in 1996 Holbrooke guaranteed that Karadzic would not be prosecuted for war crimes if he withdrew from public life.

Karadzic adopted a false identity and hid from authorities for more than 12 years, before being apprehended in 2008 and brought before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for alleged crimes against humanity and genocide.

"Doctor Karadzic was counting on Holbrooke's testimony and his defense will clearly be deficient in this regard, as Holbrooke is no longer among the living," said Cavoski.

Although Holbrooke publicly denied the existence of such a guarantee, Karadzic's contention is supported by an unlikely source, Mohamed Sacirbey, the former foreign minister in the Muslim-led BiH government, who was Karadzic's wartime foe.

Cavoski stated that Karadzic and Holbrooke had made a " gentleman's agreement" in the presence of the late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. With both Holbrooke and Milosevic deceased, Cavoski said classified U.S. State Department archives would support the existence of such an agreement.

Peter Robinson, another legal advisor for Karadzic, said his client had expressed "sorrow and regret" over Holbrooke's passing, and that he had been hoping for Holbrooke's testimony.

ICTY judges have in the past indicated that the existence of such an agreement would not influence the court's decisions.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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