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US breached secret Karadzic deal, brother

March 26, 2007 10:51 AM

BELGRADE, Serbia-Radovan Karadzic's brother on Monday accused the United States of breaching a secret deal it allegedly made with the top U.N. war crimes fugitive not to hunt him in exchange for his disappearance.

Luka Karadzic claimed in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke made the deal with Karadzic in 1996, a year after the wartime Bosnian Serb leader was indicted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for genocide allegedly committed by Serb troops during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.

"I know that the deal with my brother existed," Luka Karadzic said. "Radovan kept his part of the bargain, while Holbrooke and the United States did not."

Holbrooke and the U.S. State Department have repeatedly denied making any such deals with Karadzic, considered the world's most wanted war crimes suspect who disappeared from public view in 1998.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said last Friday it was "absolutely false" that Holbrooke made the arrangement with Karadzic.

"The United States does not and will not stand aside and allow war criminals to escape the hands of justice," McCormack said. "We continue to call for his being handed over to The Hague so that he can face justice for the crimes that he has committed."

Media in the Balkans over the weekend published a document, allegedly signed by Holbrooke and Karadzic in 1996, that grants Karadzic freedom in case he gives up politics and disappears from public view.

The document, made available to the AP, says that Karadzic must cease all public functions, including giving interviews or someone else publishing his statements.

The Serbian-language document says that the U.S. State Department would provide Karadzic with US$600,000 for his and his family's spending for a period of six years in exchange for his disappearance.

"My brother would have never given up politics, or gone in seclusion in such a way, without being promised something in return," Luka Karadzic, who claims not to have seen or been in contact with his brother since 1998, said. "Radovan had hoped that the United States, with its clout of a big power, would stop his unjust persecution."

Luka Karadzic describes himself as an entrepreneur. He once owned a bakery in Belgrade.

In July 1996, Holbrooke announced that Radovan Karadzic caved in to intense U.S. pressure, agreeing to step down as the head of his political party and thus formally give up the rest of his powers.

While making the announcement, Holbrooke, the architect of the 1995 Dayton agreement between the warring sides that ended the Bosnian war, did not say if Karadzic received anything in return.

Holbrooke said at the time he was not fully satisfied with his mission, since Karadzic remains at large despite his indictment by the war crimes tribunal.

The chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, has repeatedly accused NATO and EU-led troops in Bosnia of "lacking political will" to arrest Karadzic and wartime Bosnian Serb army commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, another top war crimes fugitive.

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