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Tribunal Rejects Karadzic Challenge To Appointed Lawyer

U.S. lawyer Peter Robinson leads Karadzic's defense team.
THE HAGUE (Reuters) -- The war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia has said it denied a request from former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic to remove the lawyer that was appointed to him.

Karadzic had filed a motion to replace London-based barrister Richard Harvey, who was appointed by the tribunal this month, 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) adjourned the trial until March 2010 to give Harvey time to prepare the case.

The court said in its December 23 ruling, which was made public on December 24, that Karadzic's request was "at best, suspicious" as his senior legal adviser Peter Robinson, comes from the United States, "the country widely recognized as the leading NATO power."

It added that a number of his pro bono legal advisers also came from NATO countries.

The court also rejected Karadzic's arguments that he would not consent to Harvey's appointment because Harvey had represented Kosovo Albanians, has never represented Serbs and has made statements that Karadzic regarded as critical of Serbs.

"The chamber has no doubt that Richard Harvey, despite having represented Kosovo Albanians and having never represented Serbs, would be able to provide effective and professional legal assistance without any divided loyalties," the court said in its ruling.