KARADZIC TELLS COURT:

FEBRUARY 15 2010 15:26h

Arms smuggling prolonged Bosnian war

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Karadzic has filed motions for orders compelling more than a dozen countries to provide information he believes will be useful in his trial.

THE HAGUE, February 15, 2010 (AFP) - Bosnian Serb ex-leader Radovan Karadzic said Monday that arms smuggled to Muslim areas had prolonged the country's 1992-95 war, and claimed that Germany, France, Iran and Croatia had proof.

"The introduction of arms contributed to the duration of the war," Karadzic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, repeating claims that peacekeepers and aid organisations had provided weapons to his enemy in violation of a UN arms embargo.

"The war would have ended much earlier," if no arms were delivered to the Bosnian Muslim army, he claimed. "These weapons were used against us, to kill us.

"The Serbian side was put in a position to protect their very survival".

The 64-year-old is charged with 11 counts of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Bosnian war in which around 100,000 people died and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes.

Presenting his own defence, he has filed motions for orders compelling more than a dozen countries to provide information he believes will be useful in his trial, due to resume on March 1.

Monday's hearing was for Germany, France, Iran and Croatia to explain why they hadn't provided all the requested information.

"Loads and loads of weapons transported by ship and aircraft were funnelled into Bosnia from Iran, but this could not have been possible without the help of major players," Karadzic told the court.

"How can these countries be excused from providing documents when they were participants themselves?" he asked.

Germany and Croatia asserted that Karadzic's request for documents was not detailed enough to enable an effective search for further data, while Iran said it had searched for documents and found none.

"We have already provided a number of answers," added French representative Jean-Luc Florent. "We have nothing else to offer the accused."

The tribunal will now decide whether or not to order the countries to produce the documents.