- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2008

THE HAGUE | Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic made a defiant stand before a U.N. court preparing to try him on genocide charges, refusing to enter pleas Friday and accusing the tribunal of being a NATO proxy out to “liquidate” him.

Judge Iain Bonomy entered not-guilty pleas on Mr. Karadzic’s behalf on 11 counts, which include charges of crimes against humanity, allowing pretrial proceedings to proceed even though Mr. Karadzic rejects the court’s legitimacy.

Mr. Karadzic is charged with genocide for purportedly masterminding atrocities, including the slaughter of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995 and the deadly siege of Sarajevo, when he was president of the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic.

He blended measured belligerence with sarcasm at his second appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, declining to respond to an indictment that accused him of orchestrating Serbian atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

“This court is representing itself falsely as a court of the international community, whereas it is in fact a court of NATO whose aim is to liquidate me,” Mr. Karadzic said. “I will not plead.”

Bosnian Serbs consider NATO an enemy after the alliance launched a bombing campaign in August 1995, ultimately forcing the Serbs to negotiate an end to the war with the Dayton peace agreement.

Mr. Karadzic confirmed that he intended to represent himself with a team of legal advisers, despite Judge Bonomy’s warning that the issues ahead would be complex and nuanced.

When the Scottish judge said the rules required him to plead not guilty on the defendant’s behalf if Mr. Karadzic refused, Mr. Karadzic responded, “I would rather hear you say that at the end of the trial rather than the beginning.”

The 25-minute hearing was a crucial step in Mr. Karadzic’s case. He is accused of masterminding the worst atrocities perpetrated by Serbian forces in the Bosnian war, which claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people, and of orchestrating the savage ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats to clear the way for a Bosnian Serb ministate.

It was Mr. Karadzic’s first encounter with Judge Bonomy, who also sat on the panel of judges during the latter half of the genocide trial of Slobodan Milosevic. The former Yugoslav president, who once was Mr. Karadzic’s mentor, died of a heart attack in 2006 before his case was concluded.

Judge Bonomy was appointed to the case after Mr. Karadzic insisted on the removal of Dutch Judge Alphons Orie, accusing him of bias at the first court hearing a month ago.

Mr. Karadzic, 63, one of the most familiar figures of the Balkan wars in the early 1990s, was arrested on a Belgrade bus July 21 while posing as a new-age guru. His disguise of a bushy beard and long white hair allowed him to move unrecognized through the Serbian capital despite being one of the world’s most-wanted fugitives.

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