In the cross-examination of Drazen Erdemovic, Radovan Karadzic revisited the well-worn conspiracy theory about the involvement of the French intelligence service in ‘what was done’ in Srebrenica. The prosecutor asked the accused to clarify ‘what is that was done’. Karadzic rashly replied ‘the liquidations and executions in July 1995’ and soon regretted what he had done

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

Radovan Karadzic today continued the cross-examination of Drazen Erdemovic. Karadzic put forward his version of the crimes that were committed in July 1995 in Srebrenica. According to Karadzic’s version, the French secret service gave 12 kilos of gold to the members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment ‘to do what was done’.

When the prosecutor asked the accused to specify ‘what was done’ on the orders of the French secret service, Karadzic replied ‘the liquidations and executions in July 1995’. Karadzic soon realized that he had unwittingly confirmed that ‘the liquidations and executions’ had been carried out in Srebrenica and tried to backpedal, saying, ‘I’m not making any claims’. It was ‘up to the prosecution to prove it’, he said.

Karadzic’s version of Srebrenica executions isn’t new. By the end of 1999, it was already aired by Milosevic’s information minister Goran Matic. In 2000, at the trial of General Radislav Krstic, defense’s military expert General Radovan Radinovic tried to convince the Tribunal of it, to no avail. General Krstic was sentenced to 35 years for aiding and abetting genocide in Srebrenica in 1995. Finally, in his evidence in the defense of Slobodan Milosevic in 2005, Serbian Radical leader Vojislav Seselj offered the same explanation for the crimes.

In his take on the Srebrenica ‘French connection’ theory, Karadzic started with Erdemovic’s evidence that commander Milorad Pelemis used the members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment for his own ends, primarily to make profit for himself. According to Erdemovic, there was a rumor that Pelemis found 12 kilos of gold in Srebrenica. Karadzic contends that those who got only a little or nothing of the booty grew discontented. Since it was impossible that this much gold could have been found among ‘the poor people of Srebrenica’, the only logical explanation is that the gold had come from the French secret service who had paid for the massacre of prisoners at the Branjevo farm and possibly for the other ‘liquidations and executions’ in Srebrenica, Karadzic explained.

Before he expounded his ‘French connection’ argument, Karadzic tried to prove that eight people in Erdemovic’s detachment couldn’t have killed 1,000 or 1,200 prisoners in four or five hours they had been at the site. Karadzic asked Erdemovic if he or other members of the group killed the captives with ‘an intent to annihilate Muslims’, i.e., with the genocidal intent the prosecution alleges Karadzic had. Erdemovic replied that he had no such intent as he killed the Muslims, and didn’t know what intent the others had. ‘Some of them enjoyed it,’ Erdemovic added, particularly a group of men who had come from Bratunac and took part in the execution.

Erdemovic confessed to his part in the massacre at the Branjevo Farm even before the Tribunal indicted him for the crime. Karadzic asked Erdemovic why he had confessed. ‘Because I saw that my life had been destroyed that day, because of all the other persons who died that day, because of everything, Mr. Karadzic. At that moment, I didn’t think about my life. And that’s it’, Erdemovic replied.

After Erdemovic completed his evidence, the prosecution called General Manojlo Milovanovic, former chief of the VRS Main Staff.