In the cross-examination, the prosecution witness, former Serb official from Zvornik, agreed with Karadzic’s claims about the Muslims organizing and arming themselves and the secret plans of the ‘Mosque Doves’, ‘Cobras’ and ‘Black Swans’ to blow up dams and bridges on the Drina River. This caused fear among the Serbs. In the end, Arkan’s ‘Tigers’ ‘defended’ them

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

The former Serb official from Zvornik is testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic under a pseudonym, with image and voice distortion as protective measures. In the examination-in chief, the witness claimed that he didn’t know the details about who controlled the prison in Celopek and knew nothing about the abuse of Muslims detained there. The witness only confirmed that Muslims from the Zvornik neighborhood of Divic were held captive in the Culture Hall in Celopek.

Prosecutor Julian Nichols showed the written statement given by the witness to the OTP investigators, in which he says that Zuco’s unit guarded the prison in Celopek and that the unit members ‘were very harsh’ with prisoners. The witness didn’t deny he had stated this, but explained that his information came from ‘unofficial and direct’ sources. In his replies to the prosecutor, the witness confirmed that Muslims were expelled from Kozluk in June 1992.

The witness was then shown an entry from Ratko Mladic’s diary about a meeting on 30 June 1992 in Zvornik. The accused Karadzic attended the meeting with the representatives of the Zvornik and Bratunac municipalities. The president of the local board of the Serbian Democratic Party Branko Grujic said at the meeting that they ‘implemented the president’s decision to settle our children in Divic and Kozluk’. At the same meeting, the representative from Bratunac boasted that there were only two Muslims left in his municipality.

The witness first said he had ‘no comment’ on the statements made by the representatives of Bratunac and Zvornik at the meeting with Karadzic and Mladic. Later the witness blamed the war for the evacuation of Muslims. As the witness explained, it was all ‘terrible’; at the time he would also have ‘voted for not having any Muslims in a 100 km radius from where I was’ if he could, the witness said. As the witness noted, this ‘terrible hate’ resulted in the deliberate destruction of all the mosques in Zvornik. According to the witness, those who tore down the Orthodox churches felt the same.

Yesterday the witness denied his previous statements about Karadzic given to the investigators. In the cross-examination, the witness agreed with almost all the claims the accused put to him about the beginnings of the Patriot League. Karadzic claimed that the Patriot League was already set up in early 1991 and its members had the same weapons as the modern European armies and NATO. Karadzic also spoke about the staffing of the reserve police with Muslims sent for training in Croatia by the SDA. This engendered ‘fear’ among the Serbs in the light of the ‘historical suffering’ of Serbs in that region.

With the witness’s help, Karadzic brought up the Muslim plans to blow up the red mud dam located near Djulic in Zvornik, the Zvornik Hydropower Plant, the dam in Visegrad and the bridges on the Drina river. Karadzic also insisted on the statements made by the HDZ candidates in the election campaign to the effect that ‘Croatia will be defended on the Drina river’. According to Karadzic, this caused fear among Serbs in light of their experience with the Independent State of Croatia, which had enjoyed the support of the Muslims, the witness said.

Karadzic noted that in early 1992 there were other ‘notorious’ Muslim groups like the Mosque Doves, Cobras and Black Swans. Their activities brought about the conflict in Zvornik, the accused argued. In early April 1992, the conflicts stopped when Arkan’s Tigers intervened. Karadzic played a recording of a pre-election speech Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan gave in September 1996. In the speech, Raznatovic boasts that he saved Bijeljina and liberated Zvornik.

Karadzic continues his cross-examination of the witness tomorrow.