Belgrade journalist Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac today accused his American colleague Robert Block of false testimony; he contested Block’s claim that Karadzic and the Pale leadership were ‘very angry’ with Pirocanac because a news report on ‘the liberation of Srebrenica’ was broadcast by the Belgrade TV network Studio B on 15 July 1995. Pirocanac claimed that both Pale and The Hague were happy with his report from Srebrenica

Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialZoran Petrovic Pirocanac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the evidence of Belgrade journalist Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac. On 13 and 14 July 1995, Pirocanac made some recordings of the ‘liberation of Srebrenica’ by the Bosnian Serb troops.

The Trial Chamber had already admitted into evidence Pirocanac’s recording and his testimony at the trial of Popovic et al. The Trial Chamber initially concluded the witness didn’t need to come to The Hague to be cross-examined. In February 2012, after the evidence of American journalist Robert Block, the accused filed a motion to cross-examine Pirocanac, in order to contest Block’s claim that the Pale leadership and Karadzic personally were ‘very angry’ that Pirocanac’s footage was broadcast by Belgrade TV network Studio B.

In the brief examination-in chief, prosecutor Julian Nicholls read out the summary of Pirocanac’s evidence in the Popovic et al. case, recalling the incriminating footage of Muslim prisoners on the balcony of the ‘white house’ in Potocari and of the bodies of the people killed in front of the warehouse in Kravica. After the news report was broadcast, these images ‘disappeared’ from the original tape.

At the beginning of the cross-examination, Dr. Petrovic, as the witness had asked the court to address him, offered his congratulations to ‘the president’ on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Republika Srpska. As Pirocanac said, Republika Srpska wouldn’t exist without Karadzic. The accused responded by wishing Pirocanac all the best for the International Journalists’ Day. As he answered Karadzic’s questions, Pirocanac denied that he had talked to US journalist Robert Block after the report was broadcast; in fact, he never complained to Block that Karadzic was angry with him.

Pirocanac called Block a ‘liar’ who was the ‘first to get the story about the Srebrenica genocide rolling’. As Pirocanac said today, Karadzic was not angry at all: in fact, Pirocanac had been told by his fellow journalists from Pale that the RS leadership had been pleased with the story. Pirocanac sent the footage to Pale from Belgrade by bus. Pirocanac also insisted that his recordings - which include the incriminating images of prisoners on the balcony of the ‘white house’, the bodies of the people killed in front of the warehouse in Kravica and larger groups ofprisoners in a field near Sandici - ‘contributed greatly’ to the OTP’s investigation into the Srebrenica events. Thanks to his footage, Pirocanac claims, the OTP was able to identify a number of people who had taken part in the Bosnian Serb military and police Srebrenica operation. The footage helped identify the locations of some crucial events listed in the indictment. Pirocanac obviously sees no contradiction in his claim that both Pale and The Hague are happy with his Srebrenica recordings.

Karadzic described the atmosphere on 13 July 1995 in Potocari, where more than 20,000 Srebrenica refugees, mostly women and children, had gathered, as ‘relaxed’. Pirocanac confirmed this, adding that he never heard any Serb saying a ‘bad word’ to the Muslims. Karadzic asked Pirocanac if he or anybody else from the RS leadership was ‘prone to thinking about, let alone doing anything to destroy Muslims as a group’. If that were true, Pirocanac replied, he, who had a reputation as ‘unmerciful’, would be the ‘first to rip into [Karadzic]’.

In the re-examination, the prosecutor showed the part of the Srebrenica news report where Pirocanac is heard commenting on the scenes he sees along the road as he drives from Potocari to Bratunac, saying these looked to him like ‘Arab tricks’. Pirocanac uses profanities to curse at the Muslims, calling them ‘trash’ that had brought ‘the plague’. Borovcanin replies, saying ‘yes, yes’ and speaks about ‘a pre-fab mosque on Mt. Igman’ that would be destroyed in two or three days. Pirocanac tried to justify his language saying ‘it was the war’, and in such situations it is advisable to ‘establish rapport with those you are with’. Borovcanin, with whom Pirocanac tried to ‘establish rapport’ commanded the joint forces of the Republika Srpska MUP and was sentenced to 17 years in prison by the Tribunal.

Radovan Karadzic’s trial will continue tomorrow with the evidence of the prosecution’s last witness, who will testify under the pseudonym KDZ 071.