As his trial continues, Radovan Karadzic today tried to prove that witness Alma Mulaosmanovic Cehajic was a victim of ‘exchange of fire’, and not ‘fire that constituted a crime’ from the VRS positions. The prosecution then called Francis Roy Thomas as its next witness. Thomas, former head UN military observer, contested Karadzic’s claims that Sarajevo was full of legitimate military targets, noting that he ‘saw no military objective at all’ in the shelling of Sarajevo

Alma Mulaosmanovic Cehajic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAlma Mulaosmanovic Cehajic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic today cross-examined witness Alma Mulaosmanovic Cehajic. He claimed that on 27 February 1995 she was wounded in ‘an exchange of fire’, and not by "the fire that constituted a crime’, when a sniper fired at a tram from the VRS-controlled territory, as she described yesterday in her examination-in-chief.

‘I want the Muslim neighbors to know that the Serbs didn’t do what they are blamed for, to know this was not deliberate fire, a crime, but an exchange of fire’, Karadzic said. Using documents of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps and reports of the international observers, Karadzic tried to prove that the BH Army and the VRS fought on that day. According to Karadzic, as the witness moved around the city that day, she went ‘from one clear military target to another’; the tram itself was a legitimate military target because there was a soldier on board.

‘Even if there was a soldier on a tram, I don’t see any reason to shoot at a tram full of civilians’, the witness replied. The witness didn’t hear any shooting in the city that day until the moment when fire was opened on the tram.

After Mulaosmanovic Cehajic completed her testimony, the prosecutor called Canadian Francis Roy Thomas. From 14 October 1993 to 14 July 1994, Thomas was the head military observer in Sarajevo. Countering Karadzic’s claims that military targets were located throughout Sarajevo, Thomas said that he ‘didn’t see any military objective in the shelling of the city’.

According to the witness, the shelling of Sarajevo was ‘random’ and ‘intensive’. In the week between 19 and 26 December 1993, as many as 6,565 shells were fired on Sarajevo from the VRS positions, compared to 709 shells fired from the city on the positions held by the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, the witness noted.

Karadzic quoted from the witness’s testimony at the trial of General Stanislav Galic, when Thomas said there ‘were rumors that Muslims were shelling their own people’. ‘The UN observers never confirmed’ the rumors, the witness replied. Thomas confirmed that the BH Army did have some artillery pieces; they were, as far as he knew, located in the tunnel connecting Velesici and Ciglane. Thomas was surprised when he realized the Serb forces were firing randomly on the city instead of firing on this military target.

Karadzic asked the witness if he agreed that the Serb army around Sarajevo was surrounded by Croat and Muslim forces during the entire war. As the witness said, the observers did not know what was going on in those areas, because the Serb forces denied them freedom of movement. When Karadzic said that Croats from Kiseljak opened fire on Ilidza, Thomas replied that the military observers ‘found that in 1993 Croats from Kiseljak were firing on Croats in Sarajevo’.

Karadzic put it to the witness that the military observers were biased and only observed ‘what the Serbs were firing, not what was fired on the Serbs’, arguing that their reports were ‘useless’ for any kind of legal proceedings in court. Serb generals – Galic and Milosevic – fully respected UN members, Karadzic claimed.

‘Actions speak louder that words’, the witness responded, asking Karadzic why, if what he says is true, the military observers were not granted access to hospitals and mortuaries in the Serb territory.

Irritated by the Canadian major’s replies, Karadzic said Thomas was ‘a hostile witness’, ‘showing hatred towards his generals’ Galic and Milosevic, who have been unfairly convicted.

Tomorrow morning, Karadzic will complete his cross-examination of the former UN military observer. The trial will then be adjourned until Monday, 27 September 2010.

Alma Mulaosmanovic Cehajic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial
Francis Roy Thomas, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial