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Karadzic’s Request for US "Intercepts" Probe Denied

Defendant had claimed the American embassy monitored confidential calls with lawyer.
By Rachel Irwin

A judge has turned down Radovan Karadzic’s request to investigate whether the United States government interfered with the administration of justice by intercepting the defendant’s phone calls with his legal advisor.

On October 28 last year, Karadzic sent a letter to the US embassy in The Hague asking whether it had “intercepted any of his privileged communication or that of his legal advisor, Peter Robinson”. The embassy sent a response on December 6, declining to answer the question.

In a January 20 submission, Karadzic stated that there was a “body of publicly available evidence that the US may have engaged in such behaviour”.

He referred to a cable released by Wikileaks stating that the US “obtained information from intercepted phone calls between [late Serbian president] Slobodan Milosevic and his wife”.

Karadzic also quoted Frederik Harhoff – a tribunal judge disqualified last year for statements he made in a personal email – as saying in a news article that he was sure that “all judges are having their email monitored”.

Karadzic asserted that the US’s interest in his case was “well-documented”. He claimed that after his 2008 arrest, the US “conducted a diplomatic campaign not to lift sanctions which had been put in place against Karadzic’s family as a coercive measure to obtain his surrender”.

In response, the prosecution contended that there was no evidence to support the allegations made by the accused. (See Prosecution Dismisses Karadzic's Phone Intercepts Claim.)

On March 13, Judge Bakone Justice Maloto agreed with this view and turned down Karadzic’s request.

The judge stated that the “material submitted by the applicant merely amounts to speculative assertions concerning the USA’s alleged interception of privileged or otherwise confidential communications and the provisions thereof to parties before the tribunal.”

He concluded, “I am of the view that the material which the applicant has submitted…does not support a finding that there is reason to believe that there has been interference with the administration of justice before the tribunal.”

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.

He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995.

Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run. His trial began in 2009.

Rachel Irwin is IWPR’s Senior Reporter in The Hague.