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Karadzic Challenges Legality Of Yugoslavia Tribunal

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in court in The Hague

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in court in The Hague

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -- Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, on trial over 11 counts of war crimes during the 1992-95 Bosnian war when 100,000 people were killed, said the court lacked the "legal validity and legitimacy" to try him.

Karadzic boycotted the start of his trial last month, forcing the tribunal's judges to appoint legal counsel against his will and adjourn until March 2010 to give new defense lawyers time to prepare.

"Regardless of what the decision of the Trial Chamber may be in response to this motion, Dr. Radovan Karadzic believes it is his moral duty in the light of history and before the general public, to challenge the legal validity and legitimacy of this court," Karadzic said in the eight-page motion released today, in which he cites Aristotle and argues that the court is merely a prosecution organ of the UN Security Council.

Karadzic faces life in prison on charges of orchestrating crimes against humanity in the Bosnian war during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

He has been indicted over episodes including the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo that began in 1992 and the genocide of about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995.

Karadzic denies all the charges and has challenged the court and sought delays to the trial since he was captured 16 months ago after 11 years on the run, arguing that he had a secret immunity deal that protected him from prosecution.

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia denied his claims and went forward with the trial of their highest-profile suspect.

Last week, they denied him permission to appeal against the court's decision to appoint him legal counsel saying that an appeal would "hinder, rather than materially advance the proceedings."