Radovan Karadzic asked Dr. Milan Mandilovic ‘who launched the aggression’ against Sarajevo and its citizens. ‘If someone holds you under siege for 44 months and doesn’t let you leave, then one need not be too clever to figure it out…’, Dr. Mandilovic replied. When Karadzic asked him what he would say if he knew that the ‘Muslim’ and not Serb forces were responsible for the suffering of the Sarajevo citizens, the witness replied ‘I wouldn’t believe you’

Milan Mandilovic, witness at Radovan Karadzic's trialMilan Mandilovic, witness at Radovan Karadzic's trial

Prosecution witness Milan Mandilovic rejected Radovan Karadzic’s allegations that ‘fundamentalists’ ran the State Hospital in Sarajevo during the war. Mandilovic also denied that individuals protected ethnic Serb doctors only because they ‘did their job professionally’.

‘I absolutely protest’, Dr. Mandilovic said, commenting on the statement by Vesna Pagon, former pharmacologist in the State Hospital. After she left Sarajevo in October 1994, Pagon told the Serb authorities that Dr. Bakir Nakas was a ‘fundamentalist’, and that Muslim doctors kept Serb doctors working in the hospital only because they were professional.

On the contrary, Dr. Mandilovic said: when the JNA troops left the hospital the top three surgeons doctors were a Montenegrin, a Serb and a Muslim while the head of the internal medicine ward was a Slovak. ‘It was a multi-ethnic and a multi-religious society and our leading light was antifascism’, the witness noted.

When Karadzic asked the witness, ‘who was the fascist’, the witness replied it was ‘a terrible aggression’. ‘Who launched the aggression’, Karadzic pressed on. ‘If somebody holds you under siege for 44 months and doesn’t let you go out, then one needn’t be too clever to figure it out’, Dr. Mandilovic replied. The witness went on to say that those who saw what was going on at the time – the international observers, UNPROFOR and the media – ‘should be asked’ such questions.

As he cross-examined Dr. Mandilovic, Karadzic probed the issue further in an effort to convince the witness that he was wrong when he said that Serb forces were responsible for the horrors during the Sarajevo siege. In Karadzic’s view, the citizens of Sarajevo suffered because of the ‘Muslim army’ that shelled the city and the hospital from their positions at the Jewish Cemetery, Debelo Brdo and Colina Kapa.

‘Why would they open fire on their territory, what interest would they have in that, where would they get heavy artillery and ammunition’, Dr. Mandilovic replied to Karadzic’s claims. Karadzic then asked the witness what interest the Serb forces would have in shelling the hospital. The main goal was to destabilize the life in the city by destroying its vital facilities, the witness replied. ‘How do you know it’, Karadzic questioned. ‘Because you held us under siege for 44 months’, Dr. Mandilovic countered.

Showing off his medical knowledge, Karadzic said that between 120 and 180 liters of water were necessary for ‘the normal functioning of one’s personality’, in order to show that that those quantities of water came in through the Serb territory. Karadzic also put it to the witness that ‘the Muslim authorities’ sabotaged the water supply to the city in order to ‘favor’ the criminals who were selling water.

The witness said he didn’t notice anybody selling water in Sarajevo during the war. When Karadzic asked him what he would say if he knew that the ‘Muslim’ – and not Serb – authorities were responsible for gas shortages, the witness replied, ‘I wouldn’t believe you’.

Egyptian general Abdel Razek started his evidence after Mandilovic left the courtroom. From 21 August 1992 to 20 February 1993, Razek was commander of UNPROFOR Sector Sarajevo. In 2002, Razek testified at the trial of VRS general Stanislav Galic, who was sentenced to life in prison for the campaign of sniper and artillery terror against Sarajevo.