Former high-ranking official of the UN BH mission David Harland agreed with Karadzic’s claim that in some parts of Sarajevo the BH Army held ‘dominant’ positions. Harland insisted that hundreds of thousands of civilians in Sarajevo were targeted by the artillery and sniper terror campaign waged by the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. According to Harland, any attempt to shift the blame for that to the other side would be ‘an inversion of reality’

David Harland, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialDavid Harland, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

In his effort to contest the allegations in the indictment about the terror campaign waged by the VRS against the civilians in Sarajevo from 1992 to 1995, former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic opted for the same tactic used by the defense of former Sarajevo-Romanija Corps commander Dragomir Milosevic. In his cross-examination of former high-ranking UN official for civil affairs David Harland, the accused tried to prove that in Sarajevo the BH Army actually held ‘dominant’ positions and the VRS ‘inferior’ ones, and therefore, Serbs could not have inflicted terror on Sarajevo.

This tactic didn’t help General Milosevic much, as he was sentenced to 29 years in prison in November 2009. Karadzic obviously hopes that the same arguments will yield better results in his case.

The accused first said that a number of hills in Sarajevo, such as Hum, Zuc and Mojmilo, were held by the BH Army. As Harland agreed to that, Karadzic noted that there were parts of Sarajevo under Serb control which were on lower ground, and that, as Karadzic said, meant that they were ‘in a tactically inferior position’ in relation to those held by the BH Army.

Harland replied that Karadzic’s claims were true, but only ‘in the narrow sense’. According to Harland, they were not representative and were in fact an ‘inversion of reality’. The reality was that hundreds of thousands of people in the city were targeted by Serb weapons from the surrounding hills. Harland didn’t deny that the BH Army also targeted civilians with artillery and snipers but insisted that most of the victims in Sarajevo were killed and wounded by the VRS.

Today Karadzic propounded yet another argument that has already been heard before the Tribunal several times: the civilians in Sarajevo and Srebrenica were in fact held hostage by the BH authorities who prevented them from fleeing in hope of creating a major humanitarian catastrophe which would prompt the West to launch a military intervention. The witness confirmed that during the war civilians could not leave Sarajevo without a permit and that President Izetbegovic would not agree to the evacuation of Srebrenica. However, Izetbegovic didn’t do it to harm the civilians but because he felt it would be ‘bowing down to ethnic cleansing’, Harland clarified.

Probing further the Srebrenica issue, Karadzic suggested that initially the Serb forces’ objective in July 1995 was not to conquer the enclave. According to Karadzic, Serb troops wanted to restore the enclave borders as they were defined in the UN Security Council resolution. Harland denied this, reminding the accused that he himself had stated at that time in the infamous Directive Seven that ‘the civilians’ lives should be made unbearable’ in the enclaves of Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde.

The accused criticized UNPROFOR for its role in paving the way for NATO air strikes on Bosnian Serb positions in late summer of 1995, saying that UNPROFOR didn’t have a mandate to do it. UNPROFOR’s mandate was to protect civilians with ‘all necessary means’ including the use of force, the witness replied. After the massacre in Srebrenica and the second artillery attack on the Markale town market, it became clear that the goal could be accomplished only by resorting to ‘extreme methods’, such as military strikes on Bosnian Serb positions, the witness explained.

David Harland continues his evidence on Monday. Karadzic has so far spent four of the total of 14 hours he had requested for the cross-examination.