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Karadzic Files Motion To Remove Appointed Lawyer

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic

THE HAGUE (Reuters) -- Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic filed a motion today to replace a lawyer appointed to him by a war crimes tribunal, saying he wanted to work with someone who shared his "heritage and language."

Karadzic, who has denied all 11 war crimes charges from the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including genocide at Srebrenica, had been representing himself and boycotted the first three days of his trial in an attempt to win more time to prepare his defense.

Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) last month appointed London-based barrister Richard Harvey as Karadzic's legal counsel after the boycott.

The court, which adjourned the trial until March 2010 to give Harvey time to prepare the case, later denied Karadzic's request to appeal that decision.

Karadzic is now asking the court's registrar, who handles administrative and procedural matters, to allow him to choose someone else as a counsel. He also asked today for the court to restore funding for the legal team assisting him.

"Dr. Karadzic isn't really prepared at this time to come on the first of March to appear at trial because his team is no longer funded by the registry and because he wasn't given a chance to choose a stand-by counsel with whom he can work," Peter Robinson, who advises Karadzic, told reporters.

Robinson said Karadzic remained in good spirits, working about 10 hours daily on the case into the early hours.

"The registrar's actions deprived Dr. Karadzic of the right to select a lawyer with whom he shares a common heritage, language, and trust, and who has familiarity with the conflict in Bosnia.

"Instead the registrar has selected a lawyer from a NATO country who has represented at this tribunal only those who have fought against the Serbs," Karadzic wrote in today's motion.

Karadzic had been given a list of five lawyers by the registrar, but rejected all on the same basis.

The Nov. 5 ruling imposing a lawyer on Karadzic allowed him to continue representing himself, but compelled him to work with Harvey, or another lawyer if he were replaced. If Karadzic continues to boycott the trial, he loses his right to represent himself and the appointed lawyer will take over, the court said.