Dershowitz May Defend Serb Leader Karadzic

Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, one of the world's most-wanted men, has solicited the services of Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz, one of the world's best-known criminal defense lawyers.

"He has contacted me four or five times on the phone," Dershowitz said, adding that he wanted "to discuss whether or not I'd be willing to represent him."

Dershowitz said he has thus far declined to defend Karadzic, who remains at large following two indictments by a United Nations (U.N.) war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

"I told him I do not represent fugitives," Dershowitz said.

But the professor also called the tribunal's case "weak" and left open the possibility that he would serve on Karadzic's legal team "if he were to surrender to the authorities and call."

Karadzic, who so far has eluded both United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces seeking his arrest, led the Serbs during the three-and-a-half year in war in the former Yugoslavia.

The U.N. tribunal has charged Karadzic with genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of war and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention.

He is believed to be hiding somewhere in Bosnia, having fled his stronghold in Pale with a coterie of over a hundred guards protecting him.

In response to rumors this week that Karadzic has been negotiating terms for a surrender, his brother told reporters at a press conference in Greece yesterday that the former commander-in-chief of the Serbian Republic "never considered turning himself in, and he never made contact with anyone for that reason, nor does he plan to."

Luka Karadzic appeared with attorney Alexandros Lykourezos, one of two Greek lawyers reported to be defending Karadzic.

Lykourezos said he has also been retained by General Ratko Mladic, who oversaw the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians as Karadzic's military chief.

Allies of Karadzic, including Belgrade attorney Kosta Cavoski, have indicated that he will shift the blame for wartime atrocities to Mladic and to Yugoslav Federal Republic president Slobodan Milosevic, who has been granted conditional immunity.

Dershowitz did not comment on this strategy but focused instead on aspects of the U.N. tribunal's case.

"The language of the indictment is very vague and general," he said.

According to Dershowitz, Karadzic has not actually been accused of doing anything but rather of failing to act.

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