How Bosnian Serbs managed to survive in the face of ‘the Muslim terror’, ‘the tripartite pact’ by Tudjman, Kucan and Izetbegovic, and the campaign waged by NATO and Western countries on their enemies’ side? The trial has been adjourned pending the decision of the Appeal Chamber on Karadzic’s motion to grant him additional time to prepare his defense

Radovan Karadzic during his opening statementRadovan Karadzic during his opening statement

‘Only God saved us’: this is how Radovan Karadzic explained how Bosnian Serbs managed to survive and defend their territories despite the terror campaign of the ‘core of conspirators’ in the SDA. The SDA troops ‘didn’t leave anyone alive, not even cats’ in their wake, despite the ‘tripartite pact’ against the Serbs and the JNA by Alija Izetbegovic, Franjo Tudjman and Milan Kucan, and the ‘cunning strategy’ of their enemies who managed to involve NATO and Western countries ‘in the war on their side’. Karadzic didn’t say that outright, but it was tacitly understood, that the intervention of the Almighty was linked to the fact that Bosnian Serbs waged ‘a sacred war’, as the accused said yesterday.

Yesterday Karadzic claimed that the Bosnian Serb leadership ‘didn’t even think, let alone plan’ to forcibly eliminate Bosnian Serbs and Croats from the territories Serbs considered as theirs. The indictment defines this as the first of the four joint criminal enterprises. Today Karadzic contested the remaining charges against him: the sniper campaign in Sarajevo, the genocide in Srebrenica and using UN staff as hostages and human shields.

As Karadzic put it, Sarajevo ‘was divided, and not under siege’. There were plenty of ‘legitimate military targets’ in the center of Sarajevo because the BH Army used kindergartens, schools, universities, residential and business buildings – even hospitals – as military facilities. All incidents involving mass casualties, such as the two Markale Town Market massacres and the shelling of people queuing for bread and water were ‘ruses of war’ set up by the Muslim side in order to force the international community to intervene, Karadzic repeated today.

Allowing it was possible that ‘something’ did happen in Srebrenica, Karadzic said that now he was ‘at a stage in which I’m establishing the truth: whether anyone had been killed there unlawfully at all, and if yes, how many people’. Karadzic contests the number of more than 8,000 victims whose names have been engraved in the memorial in Potocari. Karadzic noted that ‘2,500 to 3,000’ victims had been buried so far, but as he added, nobody knew where, when and under what circumstances they had lost their lives. Karadzic asked for permission to verify five percent of the DNA samples taken from the victims to establish if there are any significant deviations. Before the representatives of Srebrenica victims who followed Karadzic’s statement from the public gallery, Karadzic argued that ‘even as we speak, they are digging up graves throughout Bosnia to be able to bury those bodies in Potocari, in July’.

Finally, Karadzic denied that the UN staff, captured and detained by Bosnian Serbs in May 1995, could be considered ‘hostages’ as alleged in the indictment. According to Karadzic, ‘only civilians can be considered hostages, not soldiers involved in fighting’ for the enemy side; in this case, the enemy was the NATO air force that bombed the VRS positions.

Concluding his opening statement, Karadzic called the Trial Chamber to return the indictment to the prosecution, to withdraw it or delete allegations he could easily ‘clean away with a broom’, or contest. If the prosecution refused to do so, Karadzic asked for ‘enough time and funds’ to prepare himself for ‘an exemplary trial which will rehabilitate the Tribunal and international law’.

In Karadzic’s opinion, the best thing would be if the UN Security Council passed a resolution ratifying his agreement with Holbrooke. If the trial proceeds, the accused warned in the end, ‘other trials will have to be reviewed’, because in the course of his defense he will prove that Krajisnik, generals Galic and Milosevic and many others were ‘unjustly convicted’.

The Trial Chamber allowed Karadzic to appeal against the last week’s decision rejecting his motion to postpone the trial until 17 June 2010. The trial has been adjourned pending the Appeals Chamber’s decision.