According to Radovan Karadzic, the ascendance of new people to power, war, communications breakdown and government inefficiency in 1992 ‘created an illusion of chaos that could not be controlled’. He claims Omarska and Keraterm were not concentration camps but reception centers, and Trnopolje was a place where people came and left as they wanted

Momcilo Mandic witness at the Radovan Karadzic's trial Momcilo Mandic witness at the Radovan Karadzic's trial

As he continued cross-examining Momcilo Mandic, Radovan Karadzic tried to contest the allegations in the indictment against him that the Serb Democratic Party centralized power in order to facilitate the implementation of its criminal intent to remove the Muslims and Croats from the BH territories claimed by the Serbs. His argument is that the purpose of the centralization of power was to ‘prevent the events described in the indictment’.

As Mandic said, the government of the Serb people in BH in 1992 worked at suppressing unlawful behavior against the non-Serbs. At the proposal of the government, as he said, the crisis staffs and the Serb autonomous regions were abolished in order to incorporate ‘little rulers’ and their ‘little armies, police forces and administrations’ into the state ‘with the rule of law’.

The ascendancy to power of new people ‘who did not have the experience and knowledge’ after the change of the regime in the nineties, war, communications breakdown, and government inefficiency ‘created an illusion of chaos that could not be controlled’, according to Karadzic. Mandic agreed, adding that ‘no one thought there would be war’, and when the war did break out, this resulted in a general turmoil and chaos in every nook and cranny in BH’. ‘It seems to me that the government and the people lost their heads at that time’, Mandic said.

In an effort to show that the central government did not have the power to dismiss municipal presidents who ‘made mistakes out of ignorance’ but ‘did everything they could to rectify the mistakes’, Karadzic brought up government proposals and presidency instructions calling for military rule to be imposed in some Serb-controlled municipalities, to restore law and order.

Speaking about the prisons and camps in Serb-controlled areas, Karadzic claimed that Omarska and Keraterm were not concentration camp, and Trnopolje was ‘a reception center’ where people came and went ‘as they pleased’.

According to the documents produced by the Serb authorities between 26 May and 16 August 1992 Karadzic showed today, 3,334 persons captured in the fighting or found in the combat operations zone were brought to Omarska. After investigations, 1,331 persons were transferred to Manjaca, and 1,773 persons – 57.2 percent, according to Karadzic – were ‘released and decided to seek accommodation’ in the reception center in Trnopolje.

Mandic’s examination was to be completed today, but the Chamber granted Karadzic two more hours to deal with the topic of remand prisons, to explain the capability of the presidency to conduct investigations, and to present what the situation was like in the Sarajevo area.