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Karadzic Files Motion Detailing 'Immunity Deal'

Radovan Karadzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague
THE HAGUE (Reuters) -- Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has filed a 140-page motion arguing the war crimes charges against him should be dropped because he was promised immunity by a top U.S. official in 1996.

Karadzic, arrested and brought to the tribunal for former Yugoslavia last year after 11 years on the run, has said since his arrival that former U.S. peace mediator Richard Holbrooke offered him immunity if he disappeared from public life.

"If the trial chamber finds that the Holbrooke agreement is binding on the tribunal, it should order that the indictment be dismissed," Karadzic and his lawyer said in the motion filed on May 25.

Karadzic, leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 Bosnia war, faces two charges of genocide over the 43-month siege of Sarajevo and the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica.

Holbrooke has repeatedly denied the existence of a deal, describing Karadzic's claim as "no more than another lie from the most evil man in Europe."

The tribunal has said that even if one exists, it would not give Karadzic immunity from prosecution.

Peter Robinson, Karadzic's legal adviser, said documents included in the motion, such as statements, articles, and a U.S. government cable, should be enough for the tribunal to hold a hearing on the immunity claims.

"Our hope is that they will at least have an evidentiary hearing," Robinson said. "It's convincing enough for an evidentiary hearing for sure."

Karadzic would face life in prison if convicted of the 11 charges against him, which include genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

The tribunal entered not-guilty pleas on Karadzic's behalf in March, after an amended indictment was filed against him.