In his cross-examination of prosecution witness Aernout Van Lynden, former Republika Srpska president tried to show that the Western media’s reporting on the events in Sarajevo was ‘tendentious and wrong’. The Western media created a ‘distorted image which was detrimental for the Serb side’

Aernout Van Linden, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAernout Van Linden, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

On the second day of his cross-examination of Aernout Van Lynden, war reporter of the British TV network Sky News, Radovan Karadzic tried to ‘correct the distorted image’ of the events in Sarajevo created by the Western media. The accused claims the image was ‘detrimental to the Serbs’ because it created an impression that ‘only Serbs were firing on Sarajevo’. In Karadzic’s view, this was far from true.

As he cross-examined Van Lynden, Karadzic used documents from both the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps and the BH Army. According to Karadzic, the documents show that the Western journalists’ reporting from Sarajevo was ‘tendentious and inaccurate, or at least ill-informed’. Karadzic used BH Army documents from early June 1992 to prove that ‘Muslim forces’ launched offensives against the VRS-held positions at Zuc, Kobilja glava, Rajlovac and other places under the Serb control. Karadzic argued that Serbs only ‘returned fire’ or launched ‘counter-offensives’. In Karadzic’s words, fire was opened on Serbs from schools, kindergartens, factories, hotels, museums and other facilities. This made them ‘legitimate targets’ of the Serb artillery, Karadzic argued.

The witness said he had never seen the documents before. If they were true, the witness found it odd that Karadzic or any other figure in the VRS neglected to tell the Sky News crew in Pale about those events. ‘Quite the contrary, you kept arresting us there’, the witness said. The media may have been ill-informed about the ‘Serb cause’ at the time, noted the witness, but those who made it impossible for the reporters to do their job were to blame, not the reporters themselves.

The witness also said that for the most of the shells that hit Sarajevo came from Bosnian Serb army artillery positions located to the south and east of the city. The witness reminded Karadzic that Ratko Mladic had personally shown those positions to the Sky News crew in September 1992. The witness insisted that he certainly was not able to verify where each shell was fired from, but that based on what he saw and heard from the UN staff, Van Lynden was convinced that Sarajevo was attacked from the Serb positions.

Karadzic then produced the same map of Sarajevo he used when he cross-examined David Harland to show that ‘Muslims forces’ held higher ground around the city. From there they opened fire on the city from artillery and mortars, Karadzic noted. The witness replied that during his stay in Sarajevo nobody – not even members of the Serb army that took him on a tour of their positions around the city – made any claims of that kind.

‘This means that you were just ill-informed, rather than biased’, the accused concluded, prompting Judge Howard Morrison to instruct Karadzic that only the witnesses’ answers, not his comments and questions will be considered as evidence in this case.

Karadzic will continue cross-examining Van Lynden tomorrow morning.