The prosecution began its opening statement with some self-incriminating quotes from Radovan Karadzic himself, which indicate the mens rea and intent of the accused. The prosecution also quoted Karadzic playing up his role as the president and supreme commander, the man who makes decisions and issues orders and has ‘everything in hand’

Alan Tieger, prosecutor at the Radovan Karadzic's trialAlan Tieger, prosecutor at the Radovan Karadzic's trial

Radovan Karadzic was ‘the architect of the ethnic cleansing policy and the leader of the forces that implemented the policy’, prosecutor Alan Tieger noted in the opening statement at the trial of the former Republika Srpska president, charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in BH from 1992 to 1995. The prosecution will prove, Tieger contends, that Karadzic was a ‘de iure and de facto supreme commander of the Bosnian Serbs and that he had full control over his subordinates’.

The prosecutor started the opening statement with a series of self-incriminating quotes from Karadzic. On the eve of the war, Karadzic said that Muslims would ‘disappear from the face of the earth’, that Sarajevo will become ‘a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die’, that he, Karadzic, would tell ‘Europe to go fuck off and stay away until we have finished the job’. According to the prosecution, those quotes clearly indicate the mens rea of the accused and his intent in the war.

After quoting Karadzic incriminating himself, the prosecutor produced quotes where Karadzic plays up his role in the war, claiming that he had everything in hand and under his control. The accused also said that he was responsible for every order and decision, that he was behind the attacks against Srebrenica and Zepa and the taking of UN staff as hostages: ‘drastic measures were called for’ and ‘use of every mean to defend ourselves’.

Karadzic was a key figure in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at the forcible and permanent elimination of Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large parts of the BH territory in order to create ‘an ethnically clean Serb state’ there, the prosecution emphasized. Preparations to implement the enterprise began when secret instructions were issued to seize power in municipalities with Serb majority, and in those where Serbs were in the minority but which were nevertheless supposed to become part a future Serb state. Once power was seized in those municipalities in accordance with the instructions, the ‘strategic goals’ of the Serb people were formulated. Those goals envisaged the separation from the other two ethnic communities, the creation of a corridor in Posavina, eliminating the Drina river as the border between Serb lands, establishing the western borders on the rivers Una and Neretva, division of Sarajevo and reaching the sea. There followed attacks, deportations, murders, detention, torture, rape and other crimes listed in the indictment.

In some municipalities the central criminal enterprise aimed at ethnically cleansing parts of BH reached the scale of genocide, but Karadzic is charged with three other joint criminal enterprises connected to the first one: terrorizing the citizens of Sarajevo; eliminating Muslims from the Srebrenica enclave; taking UN members hostage and using them as human shields.

The prosecution will corroborate its allegations, Tieger announced, with documents and orders drafted or signed by Karadzic, with transcripts from the meetings of the Assembly, government, crisis staffs and other bodies of Republika Srpska, intercepted conversations between the accused and other participants in the joint criminal enterprise and testimony of more than 400 witnesses, including members of various international organizations that negotiated with Karadzic, insiders or former collaborators of the accused and numerous victims and surviving members of their families.

The prosecution will complete its opening statement on Monday, 2 November 2009.