WITNESS: BATKO WAS ‘AN ARMED MONSTER’
Former vice-president of the SDS Executive Board Radomir Neskovic rejected in his cross-examination Radovan Karadzic’s claim that those who committed crimes against Muslims in Grbavica were arrested and prosecuted. Neskovic brought up the example of Veselin Vlahovic Batko whom he described as an ‘armed monster’
Former vice-president of the Serbian Democratic Party Executive Board Radomir Neskovic continued his evidence at the trial of Radovan Karadzic. Neskovic said that during the war, Muslims ‘were expelled en masse’ from the Sarajevo neighborhood of Grbavica, that non-Serbs were abused in various ways and that the authorities did nothing to prevent those occurrences and arrest and punish perpetrators.
In 1992, Neskovic was the president of the Crisis Staff in the Sarajevo municipality of Novo Sarajevo; the Grbavica estate was part of it. In the first months of the war there was ‘order and peace’ in the part of Grbavica under the Serb control but ‘not for long’, Neskovic described. After the departure of Major Dragan Petkovic, who treated citizens from all ethnic communities ‘properly’, the situation suddenly escalated into a mass expulsion of Muslims in August 1992.
Karadzic tried to show that those who committed crimes in Grbavica were arrested and prosecuted. Karadzic brought up the murder of Husein Pobric and another person whom he did not identify. Pobric’s killer Jovo Pejanovic was arrested and sentenced to 10 years. ‘Do you agree that the justice, slow but sure, was done, and you simply didn’t have information about it’, Karadzic asked the witness.
‘Well, I am afraid that the law enforcement and judicial bodies didn’t function at the time’, the witness replied to Karadzic. As Neskovic said, civilian and military security services, the prosecution service and courts were fully operational, but they ‘didn’t do their job’. ‘If they had, they would have captured Batko, indicted, and prosecuted him’, the witness said. According to the witness, Veselin Vlahovic Batko was ‘armed monster’ and ‘a psychopath’. Serbs avoided Batko, and Croats and Muslims ‘dreaded’ him.
Karadzic tried to convince the witness that the military police was preparing an action to arrest Veselin Vlahovic but that the witness was not aware of it. The witness rejected this claim; Karadzic himself had already given an example showing that people were arrested when there was a will to do it, Neskovic said. According to the witness, the military security bodies could arrest Batko ‘whenever they wanted to’ but they didn’t do it for a reason unknown to the witness. Neskovic also dismissed Karadzic’s suggestion that Batko was a member of a paramilitary unit. ‘All units in Grbavica were linked with the army in some way’, the witness clarified.
After Radomir Neskovic completed his evidence, prosecution political expert Patrick Treanor returned to the witness stand. Treanor’s evidence was cut short last Friday on Karadzic’s request due to the late disclosure of two documents which are allegedly important for the cross-examination.
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