London, Aug.1 : Former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has accused the United States of trying to assassinate him.
Appearing before a UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague,aradzic, who is now known to his jailers as prisoner number 38, informed Dutch judge Alphons Orie that Richard Holbrooke, the former United States Assistant Secretary of State, had granted him immunity as part of a wider Bosnia peace deal agreed in 1995.
"My commitment was to withdraw even from literary life and all sorts of public life," he said.
Karadzic then became animated and was repeatedly interrupted by the UN judge as he accused Holbrooke and others of trying to "liquidate" him.
"It 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 here," The Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
Karadzic's bizarre comments appeared to be a reference to an interview last weekend when Holbrooke told Dnevni Avaz, a Sarajevo newspaper, that the former Bosnian Serb leader "deserved the death penalty".
"I hope he gets a life sentence, there is no death penalty at Tribunal but for sure he deserves it," he was reported as saying.
Stony faced and with the occasional sneer, Karadzic did not comment as the judge read out a chilling list of atrocities contained in a lengthy 25-page indictment.
Prosecutors are wary of a drawn-out trial after Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian President and ally of Karadzic, died after five years in custody, cheating the tribunal of a verdict.
Another hearing has been scheduled on August 29 after Karadzic refused to enter a plea on any charges.
UN prosecutors have indicted Karadzic on 11 counts of offences including: genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity, extermination, violation of the customs of war, murder and the taking of hostages.
The accusations of genocide will focus on Karadzic's key role in the Bosnian Serb leadership which orchestrated the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 mainly Muslim Bosniaks and the "death or forced departure" of non-Serbs from over 40 Bosnian towns.
There are also serious war crimes charges relating to the shelling of Sarajevo, where 12,000 civilians were killed during the 44-month siege and the taking of UN peacekeepers hostage.