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Radovan Karadzic refuses to enter pleas to 11 charges filed against him

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic refused Friday to enter pleas to 11 charges filed against him, including genocide and crimes against humanity.

Judge Iain Bonomy, presiding over the hearing by the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal, entered not guilty pleas on Karadzic's behalf.

"I will not plead, in line with my standpoint as regards to this court," Karadzic said when Bonomy asked for his plea to a count of genocide.

"This court is representing itself falsely as a court of the international community, whereas it is in fact a court of NATO whose aim is to liquidate me," he said moments earlier.

Bonomy set Sept. 17 as the next date for a hearing, when Karadzic said he would challenge the court's jurisdiction. No trial date has been fixed.

Karadzic, 63, was back in court for only his second public appearance since his arrest late last month ended 13 years on the run.

The 25-minute hearing was a crucial step along the path to Karadzic's trial for allegedly masterminding the worst atrocities perpetrated by Serb forces in the 1992-95 Bosnian war, which claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people.

Karadzic, looking less tired than at his first appearance shortly after his arrest a month ago, was feisty in court, employing sarcasm that failed to amuse the Scottish judge.

When Bonomy told the former leader he was entering not guilty pleas, Karadzic said: "May I hold you to your word ... that I am not guilty?"

Bonomy replied: "We shall see in due course, Mr. Karadzic."

Outside the court, Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebnrenica group that represents survivors of the 1995 massacre by of 8,000 Muslim boys and men by Serb forces, said she wanted to witness the case against the suspected mastermind of the slaughter.

"We came to see (the) initial appearance of the biggest butcher of the 20th century in the Balkans," she said.

Prosecutors accuse Karadzic of orchestrating a savage campaign of ethnic cleansing to drive Muslims and Croats out of territory claimed by a breakaway Bosnian Serb ministate.

According to his indictment, the reign of terror began with the destruction of villages and establishment of brutal internment camps where civilian detainees were tortured, raped and murdered.

It progressed through the horror of the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, during which Serb forces relentlessly shelled the Bosnian capital and sniped at its inhabitants as they sat in trams, stood in bread queues and even as they mourned at funerals.

It reached its murderous climax in the U.N.-protected Srebrenica enclave where, in July 1995, Serb rebels slaughtered 8,000 Muslim males in Europe's worst massacre since the Holocaust.

Bonomy also pressed prosecutors to work fast to draw up a new, streamlined indictment against Karadzic.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger said he hoped to have a fresh charge sheet ready by the end of September.

"I sincerely hope you are not serious about that date," Bonomy told Tieger.

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