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UN Court Rejects Karadzic Legitimacy Challenge

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in court

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in court

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -- The UN criminal tribunal for former Yugoslavia today rejected a motion by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic challenging the legitimacy of the court to try him for war crimes.

Karadzic, facing 11 charges of war crimes arising from the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including genocide at Srebrenica, lodged a motion last month arguing that the court was a prosecuting organ of the UN Security Council.

The court said Karadzic's motion that the tribunal was not legally constituted was without merit and such a decision should not come as a surprise to him given the history of the case.

"The trial chamber wishes to emphasize to the accused, yet again, that his efforts and resources are best directed towards preparing for the resumption of his trial," the ruling said.

Karadzic, who faces life imprisonment in connection with such events as the 43-month siege of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo that began in 1992, has denied all charges and boycotted the first three days of his trial to demand more preparation time.

Since his arrival in The Hague in July 2008, Karadzic has argued he was promised immunity in a secret deal with U.S. peace envoy Richard Holbrooke on condition that he disappear from public life. Holbrooke has denied any such agreement.

The tribunal has also said such a deal, if it existed, would not limit the court's jurisdiction and opted to start the trial and appoint a defense lawyer. Karadzic has filed a motion to replace the counsel chosen for him.