|Radovan Karadzic is leading his own defense.|
Karadzic insists US helped arm Bosnia
Serbian ex-leader goes on offensive in war-crime case
AMSTERDAM - Radovan Karadzic is seeking evidence that the United States turned a blind eye to weapons shipments from Iran to Muslim forces fighting in the Bosnian war, to support his claim that Serbs acted in self-defense during the conflict.
In written responses from jail to questions by the Associated Press released yesterday, Karadzic, the Serb’s flamboyant and outspoken wartime leader in the splintered state of Bosnia-Herzogovena, said he has asked several countries for documents that will support his contention that they violated the UN arms embargo during the 1992-95 conflict.
He said this included direct US military supplies to the Bosnian Muslim army and Iranian weapons sent through Croatia with the support of US Ambassador Peter Galbraith.
“Those Americans well knew that the Bosnian Muslims were attacking civilians when they provided them with weapons. They are, themselves, aiders and abettors . . . with responsibility for war crimes,’’ he wrote.
Karadzic’s comments indicated that Serb self-defense against his allegation of Muslim aggression will probably be the central theme of his case. His trial is expected to begin within a few weeks at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Karadzic is leading his own defense against charges of genocide and during the 1995 slaughter of Bosnian Muslims in the UN-declared safe zone of Srebrenica and other crimes against humanity during the three-year war, in which an estimated 100,000 people were killed.
In a first for the 16-year-old UN Yugoslav tribunal, judges have allowed Karadzic to communicate with journalists, but only in writing with no opportunity to ask follow-up questions and only after his responses have been reviewed by the tribunal.
Karadzic ignored AP’s questions regarding his 13 years as a fugitive, his relations with his top general Ratko Mladic, who has eluded capture, or his social contacts at the UN detention center in The Hague, where he is locked up with dozens of former enemies and allies undergoing war crimes trials.
The tribunal also asked Karadzic to revise his answers to the AP, said his legal adviser Peter Robinson.
Karadzic was indicted on war crimes charges in 1995 and disappeared into hiding in 1998. He was captured in Belgrade in July 2008 disguised as a teacher of new-age philosophies.
In his response to AP, Karadzic said he wants to present documents at his trial showing that the United States, Britain, Germany, and France “envisaged the breakup of Yugoslavia and a bloody civil war in Bosnia long before I was on the political scene,’’ and that their intelligence services fueled the war.
Karadzic’s allegations of US embargo violations are not new.
A year after the war ended, select committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives concluded that the Clinton administration had adopted a “green light’’ policy for Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia.
The United States believed the Muslims were under attack by overwhelming forces of Bosnian Serbs, backed by Yugoslavia.
The tribunal has refused to hold a hearing on Karadzic’s claim that says US envoy Richard Holbrooke promised him immunity if he left office in 1995.