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Defence seeks Karadzic acquittal

Radovan Karadzic and his lawyers on Monday asked the Yugoslav war crimes court to acquit the former Bosnian Serb leader on all counts, arguing that no genocide took place in Bosnia in 1992.

“Dr Karadzic requests a judgement of acquittal pursuant to rule 98bis for counts one to 11,” said his lawyer Peter Robinson at a public hearing at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.

File picture shows Bosnian pathologist Rifat Kesetovic as he examines skulls of victims in a hospital in Tuzla taken from mass graves and in wooded areas following the 1995 massacre in the Moslem enclave of Srebrenica. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer/File. Credit: Reuters

“There was no genocide in the municipalities in Bosnia in 1992... there is no way the trial can conclude that Dr Karadzic is guilty of genocide,” he added.

Once the most powerful leader among Bosnian Serbs, Karadzic, 66, faces 11 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role in the conflict which left some 100 000 people dead and 2.2 million homeless.

He is particularly wanted for masterminding the killings that followed the Serbs' capture of the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Close to 8 000 Muslim men and boys were murdered over the course of a few days in Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

“My responsibility in Srebrenica has not been proven in any way,” Karadzic said. “My assertion is that there was no genocide.”

“The prosecution has made a huge effort to try to make some kind of an indictment out of nothing,” he said, charging that prosecutors had been influenced by “Muslim propaganda.”

Under the tribunal's rules, the defence is allowed to seek acquittal after the prosecution has presented its case. Judges are then required to rule on the request before the defence puts forward its case, a process expected to begin on October 16.

Karadzic was arrested on a Belgrade bus in July 2008, 13 years after he was first indicted by the ICTY for his part in the conflict.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted he could face life behind bars. – Sapa-AFP

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