In the final part of Momir Nikolic’s cross-examination, Radovan Karadzic claimed that the clashes in Podrinje were the result of the ‘pathological hatred’; the events followed the ‘age-old pattern’ and ‘laws of chaos’, not anyone’s orders. Nikolic dismissed the possibility that the VRS operations were not planned and organized. Nikolic accepted his part of the responsibility for ‘terrible crimes’ committed in Srebrenica in July 1995, and as a result could ‘rest easier’. He would advise others to do the same

Momir Nikolic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialMomir Nikolic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic continued his cross-examination of Momir Nikolic. Karadzic put it to him that the ‘pathological hatred’ between the Serbs and Muslims in the Podrinje area had resulted in the tragedy in Srebrenica in July 1995. Karadzic claimed that events followed the ‘age-old pattern’ and ‘laws of chaos’ and were not the result of his will or anyone’s orders.

Nikolic ruled out any possibility that military operations were carried out without a plan or control, without command and control. ‘If you launch an attack, you have to plan and prepare the operation and exercise command’, the witness said, adding that in every operation there are situations when things get out of hand, such as revenge attacks, but those were ‘individual crimes’.

Karadzic tried to prove that he was not informed about the mass executions of the captured inhabitants of Srebrenica. Nikolic replied he had never said that Karadzic either knew or didn’t know about the executions; all he said was that in the late evening of 13 July 2012 he was in the SDS office in Bratunac and he clearly heard Miroslav Deronjic speak about the instructions from ‘his boss’ Radovan Karadzic. Deronjic explained to Ljubisa Beara, security officer in the Main Staff, that he didn’t want the prisoners to be killed in Bratunac but somewhere else. After the fall of Srebrenica, Karadzic appointed Deronjic his ‘civilian commissioner’ for that area.

At the end of the cross-examination, Karadzic asked Nikolic if he would have acted differently and refused to obey orders that violated his principles if he could do it all over again. Nikolic replied that if he had had the knowledge and experience he has now, nobody would have been able to dupe him again. If he were in the same situation, he would ‘run away as fast as I could’, Nikolic said, adding that those were different times. ‘I made mistakes and I took it like a man’, Nikolic said; he thinks others should also bear their part of the responsibility. ‘That is what I have done, and I haven’t regretted it at all, believe me. I feel all the better for confessing to my part in the crime. I have accepted my responsibility and I said I was sorry. Now I can rest easier because I’ve done it’, Nikolic concluded.

The trial continues on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 with the evidence of British journalist Robert Block.