A former official from the Zvornik municipality testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic today, describing his meeting ‘in a hurry’ with Colonel Ljubisa Beara in mid-July 1995, a few days after the fall of Srebrenica. There were a lot of prisoners, Beara said, and they were ‘difficult to control’. The VRS had to ‘get rid’ of them. Beara also said that he had received the order to kill them from ‘the two presidents’. Prosecution demography expert Ewa Tabeau began her evidence later today

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

In the final part of his cross-examination of the first Bosnian Serb prime minister Branko Djeric, the accused Radovan Karadzic reminded him of an incident from May 1992, when Miroslav Deronjic, who was the president of the Bratunac Crisis Staff, sent 400 Bosniak prisoners to Pale.

In his evidence at the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik in 2004, Deronjic said he had done it to make the leaders on Pale see ‘the results of their policies’. The authorities on Pale, where the RS Presidency was located, agreed unwillingly to receive this ‘package’ of prisoners after two days of negotiations. Deronjic also noted that Karadzic later criticized him for that move.

Djeric today confirmed that he personally arranged the transfer of the prisoners in trucks to Visoko, which was controlled by the BH Army. As Djeric recounted, he heard from his driver that some prisoners from Bratunac had been brought in, that they were being mistreated and ‘it was a matter of time before crimes were committed’. This prompted him to assume the responsibility and to save these men. As Djeric said, ‘I still don’t understand why those men had been brought to the center of a democratic government’.

After Djeric completed his evidence, the prosecution called an insider witness from Zvornik. The witness testified with protective measures and under pseudonym KDZ 320. He is a former official from the Zvornik municipality. In mid-July 1995, some days after the fall of Srebrenica the witness met with Ljubisa Beara, who told the witness ‘there are a lot of prisoners who are difficult to control and we have to get rid of them’. Beara asked the witness to help him bury the executed prisoners. Beara also told the witness that the order to kill the prisoners had come ‘from the two presidents’.

In response to Karadzic’s questions, the witness confirmed that his meeting with Beara was ‘informal’ and ‘hurried’. The witness said he was ‘shocked’ and didn’t dare ask Beara too many questions and thus didn’t really understand who Beara meant when he spoke about ‘the two presidents’. The witness met Karadzic both before and after this event about 20 times and knew him well. This is why the witness couldn’t ‘even for a moment believe’ that Karadzic could order something like that.

The witness also said that this issue was never mentioned at his subsequent meetings with Karadzic. This was, as the witness put it, a ‘taboo’, discussed only tête-à-tête, never in the presence of more than two people. Karadzic put it to the witness that Beara may have been name-dropping when he mentioned the two presidents in order to impress those present and to make them carry out the task. The witness agreed.

Karadzic’s trial continued with the testimony of Dr. Ewa Tabeau, the prosecution demography expert. Tabeau was a leader on a project run by the OTP’s Demography Unit and has testified at 17 of the Tribunal’s trials. Tabeau will continue her testimony tomorrow morning.

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroom
Ewa Tabeau, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial