Analysis of Karadzic's Legal Strategy
Karadzic made his first appearance today for an arraignment. He deferred entry of his pleas, and indicated that he would represent himself. He is expected to plead not guilty to all charges.
Karadzic's statements before the court forshadow his litigation strategy:
"According to (the offer from Richard Holbrooke) I had to withdraw from public life, I had to make certain gestures, and in return the U.S.A. would fulfill their commitments. This was on behalf of the United States of America."
"I believe this is very important for my fate and for my legal position. I want to show why I am appearing before this court only now, rather than in '96, '97 or '98, when I had the intention of appearing here, but at that time, I was in danger of being liquidated because I had made a deal that Mr. Holbrooke tried to honor."
"This is a matter of life and death. If Mr. Holbrooke still wants my death, and regrets that there is no death sentence here, I wonder if his arm is long enough to reach me here."
I happen to be a criminal prosecutor when I'm not working on this blog. Karadzic's claim is one of de facto immunity, where an accused asserts that they took action to their detriment in reliance upon a promise not to prosecute them.
Karadzic will be entitled to call Mr. Holbrooke as a witness. He can call other witnesses, if there are any, to try to bolster this claim of a grant of immunity.
The burden is on Karadzic to clearly prove the existence of such an agreeement. When Mr. Holbrooke takes the stand and says that none existed, Karadzic has not met his burden. Based on everything the Karadzic family has talked about regarding Mr. Holbrooke over the last several years, there are no witnesses to this conversation between Holbrooke and Karadzic.
So, Karadzic loses this motion about immunity.
The best thing he could do for himself would be to cobble together a experienced team of criminal defense attorneys to attack the evidence and witnesses on the 11 charges. If not, Karadzic's immunity motion will quickly fail and evidence against Karadzic will be enough to overwhelmingly establish his guilt on most of the charges.