Indicted Bosnian Serb claims immunity





Every time Radovan Karadzic, the onetime Bosnian Serb leader, appears in court on war crimes charges he has hammered on one recurring claim: a senior American official pledged that he would never be standing there.

The official, Richard Holbrooke, now a special envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan for the Obama administration, has repeatedly denied promising Mr. Karadzic immunity from prosecution in exchange for abandoning power after the Bosnian war.

But the rumor persists, and different versions have recently emerged that line up with Mr. Karadzic's assertion, including a new historical study of the Yugoslav wars published by Purdue University in Indiana.

Charles W. Ingrao, the study's main editor, said that three senior State Department officials, one of them retired, and several other people with knowledge of Mr. Holbrooke's activities told him that Mr. Holbrooke assured Mr. Karadzic in July 1996 that he would not be pursued by the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague if he left politics.

Last summer, after more than a decade on the run, Mr. Karadzic was found living disguised in Belgrade, Serbia's capital. He was arrested and sent to The Hague for his trial, which is expected to start this year.




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