The prosecution has finally managed to call its first witness at the trial of the former Republika Srpska president, after two failed attempts: the first time was in late October 2009, when the accused refused to appear in the courtroom. The prosecution’s second attempt in early March 2010 failed again because of Karadzic’s motion for stay of proceedings. Karadzic faces charges of genocide and other crimes in BH

Ahmet Zulic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAhmet Zulic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The prosecution opened its case at the trial of Radovan Karadzic with the evidence of Ahmet Zulic from Sanski Most. This is Zulic’s fourth appearance before the Tribunal: he already testified about his ordeal in the prison camps in Betonirka and Manjaca at the trials of Brdjanin, Milosevic and Krajisnik. Parts of Zulic’s evidence relevant for the case of the former Republika Srpska were summarized in a written statement Zulic had signed. After prosecutor Ann Sutherland read the summary, the statement was admitted into evidence.

In his statement, Zulic spoke about the attack of Serbian forces on Muslim villages of Trnovo, Mahala, Hrustovo and Vrhpolje near Sanski Most in May 1992. He described the killings, arrests and expulsion of non-Serbs. Zulic went on to describe his own arrest on 18 June 1992 and his subsequent detention in a garage in the Betonirka factory and in a police station. At that time, Zulic and some 20 prisoners were forced to dig graves at Kriva Cesta. When the graves were dug, the prisoners had their throats cut or were shot. Only Zulic and two other prisoners survived.

In early July 1992, Zulic was transferred to the Manjaca prison camp. Many prisoners suffocated as they were transported in overcrowded trucks because of heat and lack of air. The camp warden refused to receive them, and the dead prisoners, six other inmates who were barely alive, and three able-bodied prisoners who put the others back on the truck were taken back to Sanski Most.

Zulic described the conditions in the Manjaca prison camp, where he was detained in a shed with almost 800 other prisoners. Two or three prisoners were given a can with two deciliters of water per day to share. A hundred grams of canned meat was divided into four portions, and a loaf of bread was cut into 44 pieces. Compared to the beatings Zulic had received in Sanski Most, those in Manjaca were a trifling matter. The only exception was when Zulic was almost beaten to death after he allowed the International Red Cross personnel to examine him.

[IMAGE]4696[/IMAGE]In the first part of his cross-examination, Karadzic didn’t deal with the crimes the witness had either suffered or witnessed, focusing instead on the purported efforts to arm the Muslims and their preparations for the war. To that end, Karadzic quoted a statement Suad Sabic, SDA vice-president in Sanski Most, gave to the Serb police when they arrested him in August 1992. In the statement, Sabic purportedly talked about the establishment of the SDA crisis staff, the arming and preparations for the war to ‘defend the sovereign BH’. Zulic replied he knew nothing about that. The accused then quoted from a book Sanski Most at War, which describes the establishment and operations of the Green Berets. The witness again claimed he never saw any Green Berets in Sanski Most.

At one point, Karadzic asked Zulic how many children and grandchildren he had and when they were born. When Zulic said he had six grandchildren, all born after the war, the accused triumphantly said to the judges that he had just managed to discredit Zulic, because in his statement Zulic notes he didn’t write down everything that had happened to him in the diary he kept during his incarceration in Manjaca: he didn’t want to ‘instill too much hatred in his grandchildren’. Yet, at the time when he wrote his diaries Zulic ‘didn’t have any grandchildren’, the accused said, driving the point home.

Karadzic will continue cross-examining Ahmet Zulic tomorrow.