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Bildt can't help prove Karadzic's alleged immunity deal

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07:01 CEST+02:00
Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt said he has no information to help prove Radovan Karadzic had cut a deal with Western diplomats to guarantee the Bosnian Serb leader’s immunity.

"Mr. Bildt is of the view that, to the best of his knowledge, he has no relevant information on the alleged immunity agreement," the Swedish justice ministry told the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court in a letter released Tuesday.

Even if such an agreement existed, it could not possibly supercede the tribunal's mandate and stop Karadzic's trial, added the document.

"Even if the assertion of the immunity agreement was correct, it would have no relevance to the question of the accused's guilt or innocence of the charges against him."

Last month, Karadzic asked the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where he is accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, to press Sweden and the United States for evidence confirming an immunity deal.

He claims he struck a deal with top US official Richard Holbrooke in July 1996, shielding him from prosecution in return for disappearing from the public eye.

Holbrooke, who was the US peace negotiator in Bosnia, has insisted that no such deal was made.

Karadzic also seeks to interview Bildt, who helped mediate an end to the Balkans conflict.

"Mr. Bildt was in daily contact with Holbrooke during the period in which the agreement was made and was jointly responsible for obtaining the resignation of Dr. Karadzic," he has claimed.

The Swedish justice ministry responded that while there were no legal obstacles to Bildt testifying in the case, it believed this would serve no purpose.

"Should the trial chamber consider otherwise, Mr. Bildt would of course readily make himself available for an interview."

The tribunal ruled in December that the alleged immunity deal, if it existed, would be invalid and could not stop the trial.

Karadzic, 63, was arrested on a Belgrade bus last July, 13 years after he was first indicted.

He faces 11 charges, notably for the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left 10,000 dead and the July 1995 massacre of around 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.

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