The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, yesterday rejected a motion from former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes indictee Radovan Karadzic to drop war crimes charges against him.
The Tribunal determined that regardless whether there was an agreement for immunity from prosecution for Radovan Karadzic, such an agreement cannot be binding, because it was not concluded on the instructions of the UN Security Council.
Karadzic filed the motion on May 25 this year, when he also asked that a hearing be held at which witnesses would confirm the existence of the agreement.
The Hague Prosecution objected to the motion and asked for the hearing not to be held until the Court had determined whether the existence of such an agreement would affect the competencies of the Tribunal in the indictee’s case. The Prosecution argued that even if such an agreement had been reached, it could in no way be legally binding for the Tribunal.
“The Chamber rejects the indictee’s motion, in which he alleged that failure to hold the hearing would represent a disservice to history. The purpose of this Chamber is not to serve the needs of the academic study of history. After we have considered the law, if it is determined that there is a need for hearing some pieces of evidence, we will proceed with holding the hearing,” the Tribunal’s decision states.
Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska and General Commander of its Armed Forces, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war, committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the course of the 1992-1995 war.
After having reviewed the motions filed by Karadzic up until now, and the Prosecution’s responses, the Tribunal has determined that, even if an agreement was reached between Karadzic and Holbrooke, it cannot affect the trial currently underway at The Hague, because Holbrooke was not authorized by the UN Security Council to conclude such an agreement.
The indictee has said that at the time when the alleged agreement was made, Holbrooke was authorized by the Hague Tribunal to give immunity and he acted as “an agent of the Security Council”. In this case the agreement would be binding for the Tribunal, which is a UN body.
The Court determined that the evidence presented by the indictee “does not show” that the Prosecution or the Security Council were in any way directly involved in concluding or implementing such an agreement.
“When the alleged agreement was reached, the indictment had already been confirmed. There are no indications that the Prosecution took any steps in order to abort the indictment or cancel the case against the indictee,” the decision reads.
Karadzic claims that he reached the agreement with Holbrooke on July 18, 1996. The first indictment against him was filed on July 24, 1995. An international arrest warrant was issued on July 12, 1996.
“The Chamber considers that now is an appropriate time to make its position clear concerning this motion on the basis of the material presented by the indictee. The Chamber’s duty is to make sure that the indictee will have a fair and expeditious trial. He cannot expect the Chamber to wait forever for him to collect evidence he considers necessary and then make its decision on whether the agreement can affect the competency of the Tribunal in his case. In any case, the indictee has not demonstrated efficiency in trying to find the relevant material pertaining to the issues raised in his motion,” the Chamber said.