Dzevad Gusic, former SDA president in Bratunac, said that Radovan Karadzic was behind the appointment of Miroslav Deronjic as the SDS president in that municipality. According to Gusic, Deronjic was Karadzic’s ‘right-hand man’. Karadzic disputes that, saying that the witness told ‘a pack of lies’. According to Karadzic, his relations with Deronjic were ‘cold and distant’

Dzevad Gusic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialDzevad Gusic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic for genocide and other crimes in BH continued today with the testimony of Dzevad Gusic, former president of the Democratic Action Party (SDA) in Bratunac. The witness’s written statement based on his interviews with OTP investigators and his testimony at the Slobodan Milosevic trial in May 2003 was admitted into evidence.

From his appointment as the SDA president on 20 March until the conflict, which broke out on 17 April 1992, the witness met with the representatives of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) several times in Bratunac. The SDS was headed by Miroslav Deronjic at the time. He pleaded guilty to the murder and deportation of Muslim civilians from Glogova. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and died in May 2005, while serving his sentence in a Swedish prison.

Although the SDA won most seats in the 1990 election in Bratunac, under the SDS pressure they agreed to divide power fifty-fifty. In the meantime, the Serbs in Bratunac grew even more strident in their nationalism, the SDS took part in the arming of the local Serbs, and the JNA pointed its heavy artillery positioned in Ljubovija, Serbia, at Bratunac. In early April 1992, Deronjic demanded that the police force be divided. He claimed that Karadzic insisted on it, threatening the Muslims with ‘disappearance’ if they refused.

Although the Bratunac SDA agreed to all the SDS demands, ‘foreign military formations’ from Serbia, as the witness described them, entered the town on 17 April 1992 and took over power ‘without a single bullet’. They immediately embarked on a campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing. Gusic left Bratunac the same day and learned later that about a thousand civilians had been killed in less than two months in the municipality. About 3,500 people from Bratunac are estimated to have been killed by the end of the war.

The witness said that as early as in the first half of 1991, the Serbs started saying they wanted ‘a Greater Serbia’. On the eve of the conflict, Deronjic spoke openly at various meetings about carving up BH and often invoked Karadzic. The witness concluded he was Karadzic’s ‘right-hand man’. After Deronjic’s appointment as the SDS president in Bratunac, people in Bratunac were saying there were ‘other Serbs, with more credit and respect’, but Deronjic had been Karadzic’s personal choice.

In the cross-examination Karadzic insisted that ‘everything the witness has said is a lie’ and that Gusic was not to be trusted because he had fought in the BH Army. Karadzic called Gusic ‘a Muslim propagandist’ and a ‘war criminal’. The witness dismissed those accusations, labeling them ‘nothing but fabrications that have nothing to do with the truth’.

Karadzic is trying to prove he ‘had no idea’ what the ‘local’ Serbs and Muslims from Bratunac did to each other; the crimes committed there had not been ordered by the SDS central. As he said, his relations with Deronjic were ‘cold and distant’. Contrary to what the witness claimed, the two of them were in fact ‘political opponents’.