KARADZIC: ‘ALL HANGS BY A THREAD’
In Radovan Karadzic’s words, all the charges against him ‘hang by a thread’, and the thread is the accusation that he was involved in the effort to permanently and forcibly remove the Bosnian Muslims and Croats from the parts of BH Serbs claimed as their own. Through Momcilo Mandic’s testimony, Karadzic is trying to contest the claim he was responsible for the division of the BH MUP. According to Karadzic, the other side was to be blamed for that
Momcilo Mandic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial
‘The entire indictment against me hangs by a thread’, Radovan Karadzic said as he continued his cross-examination of Momcilo Mandic, justice minister in the Bosnian Serb war government. The ‘thread’ is the claim that he was a key figure of the joint criminal enterprise to forcibly and permanently eliminate Bosnian Muslims and Croats from large parts of BH and to establish ‘an ethnically clean Serb state’.
Mandic said he had never seen any documents that would confirm those claims and accusations of the prosecution and no one in the Serb leadership espoused such opinions. Before the war, Mandic served as assistant minister in the BH MUP. When the Serbian MUP was established on 1 April 1992, Mandic was appointed deputy to Mico Stanisic, the first interior minister. Less than a month later, Mandic was appointed justice minister in the Bosnian Serb war government.
Karadzic considers Mandic a ‘key witness’ who will help him contest the prosecution’s argument that some months before the conflict, Karadzic had been working on the division of the MUP. As the prosecution alleged, the division of the MUP was the foundation for the division of BH. Yesterday, Karadzic argued that Serbs’ moves before the war were a ‘response to the violations of the Serbs’ constitutional rights’ after the Declaration of Independence of BH was passed without the approval of the Serb representatives. Mandic confirmed it yesterday. Today, Karadzic tried to prove that this did not apply to the division of the MUP.
Mandic’s dispatch of 31 March 1992 on the secession of the Serb MUP from the MUP of the republic was in line with the political agreement reached in Lisbon, on the basic features of the future BH, Karadzic said. The agreement was reached with the mediation of Cutilliero and Carrington. As Karadzic explained, those principles laid the foundations for a Bosnia and Herzegovina where each constituent unit would be entitled to its own police force.
Mandic confirmed all Karadzic’s claims, saying that the secession of the Serb MUP was just a ‘temporary measure’ before a final political agreement on how BH would be set up was reached. ‘The transformation of the MUP’, in Mandic’s words, did not ‘necessarily involve a one-sided ethnic approach’. Members of other ethnicities living in the territory that the Serbs claimed as their own could have remained in the Serb MUP. ‘Claiming the territory was not a criminal act because the European Union accepted it’, Karadzic insisted. Commenting on the document dated 31 March in which Alija Delimustafic distanced himself from the Serb ‘transformation of the MUP’, Mandic said that the BH interior minister did it ‘under the pressure of the SDA’.
Karadzic also brought up the decision of the BH Presidency of 4 April 1992 to declare general mobilization, which was followed, as Karadzic put it, by a wave of fear among the people and the ‘Green Berets’ terror campaign’. In Sarajevo, there was not a building without a Green Beret sniper in it, Karadzic claimed. Mandic confirmed that, recounting how on the night of the meeting in Krtelji near Sarajevo, on 4 April, the BH MUP special units agreed to ‘part ways in peace’.
According to Mandic, the agreement reached in Krtelji was that the Serbs would be billeted in the police building in Vrace and others in the Police Hall in Bjelave. As Mandic explained, Vito Zepinic, Jusuf Pusina, Bruno Stojic and Dragan Vikic attended the meeting. That night they said their farewells ‘with kisses’; the next day, there was a showdown. Mandic contends that the Serb special police were ambushed by some 170 Muslim police officers on their way back to ‘their’ premises in Vrace on 5 April 1992. The Muslim policemen were training there.
Karadzic was granted permission to examine the witness on Delimustafic’s testimony in the proceedings against Mandic before the BH Court, despite the prosecution’s objections. Mandic was charged with being in charge of the Serb forces’ attack on the MUP training centre in Vrace, Sarajevo, and was acquitted. In his evidence, Delimustafic confirmed that Mandic didn’t participate in the attack.
Momcilo Mandic will continue his evidence next Tuesday.
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