Asim Dzambasovic, former chief of staff in the JNA 216th Mountain Brigade, who later joined the 1st Corps of the BH Army, testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic about the ‘fraternal relations’ between the Serb officers in the former JNA and the representatives of the SDS in BH. In the cross-examination, Karadzic tried to corroborate his case that the Serb forces shelled ‘legitimate military targets’ in Sarajevo and that ‘Muslim forces attacked Serb parts of the town and terrorized their own people"

Asim Dzambasovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAsim Dzambasovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with another prosecution witness, General Asim Dzambasovic, former chief of staff of the BH Army 1st Corps. Dzambasovic’s written statement based on his previous statements to the OTP investigators was admitted into evidence. Dzambasovic testified in the Kupreskic case as the prosecution expert on military organization.

In the examination-in chief, the witness talked only about the period before the war broke out, when he served as the chief of staff of the 216th Mountain Brigade of the JNA 4th Corps. The area of responsibility included Rogatica, Sokolac, Han Pijesak, Vlasenica and Olovo. The brigade was under the command of Dragomir Milosevic, who went on to become the commander of the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. Milosevic was sentenced to 29 years in prison for the crimes committed by the Corps in Sarajevo.

According to the summary of the written statement read out by prosecutor Gustafson, in early 1992 Dragomir Milosevic relocated the 216th Brigade from Lukavica to Pale. As for Dzambasovic’s duties as Milosevic’s deputy, Milosevic transferred them to other officers, who were ethnic Serbs. The witness noticed that the brigade started distributing weapons to the Serb people and volunteers. One of the Serb volunteers, Rajko Kusic, formed his own unit and placed it under the command of the JNA 216th Brigade on 4 March 1992.

These events prompted the witness to express his concern in a conversation with Milosevic and Vojislav Djurevic, who commanded the 4th Military District. On 6 April 1992, Milosevic told Dzambasovic he couldn’t guarantee his safety. The witness left the JNA and joined the Territorial Defense in Sarajevo.

In the brief examination-in chief, the witness said that after September 1991 the relations between the Serb officers in the JNA and the representatives of the Serbian Democratic Party SDS) were ‘fraternal’. SDS leaders often visited Dragomir Milosevic, the witness said. He labeled false the claims made by Rajko Kusic in his report; Kusic claimed that the Serbs in Rogatica and Visegrad were subjected to the ‘abuse’ and ‘terror’ of the armed SDA formations.

In the cross-examination, Karadzic argued that the Bosnian Croats and Muslims followed the instructions of the HDZ and SDA and refused to respond to the JNA call-up. The witness said that the SDA and the SDS had the same attitude about the first JNA call-up at the time when Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia. It was only after the conflict in Croatia, in the second half of 1991, that their attitudes towards the JNA diverged. At that time, the witness said, Milosevic stopped socializing with him.

Karadzic used this witness to mark the areas of responsibility and positions of brigade commands and artillery posts manned by the BH Army 1st Corps on the maps of Sarajevo. The accused did it in a bid to prove that the Serb forces in Sarajevo shelled only ‘legitimate military targets’. Karadzic also contends that the ‘Muslim forces’ held almost all the elevations in the city and around it, opening fire from them not only on the Serb parts of the city but also on its own people. The UN witnesses heard so far have all dismissed the claim, insisting that the VRS shelled Sarajevo at random. One of those witnesses, David Harland, called the claims made by the accused ‘an inversion of reality’.