Former commander of the UNPROFOR Sarajevo Sector, General Abdel-Razek contends the commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Stanislav Galic was a professional who obeyed the orders of his superiors. Ratko Mladic, Galic’s superior, was described by General Abdel-Razek as a ‘strong personality and a charismatic leader’ who controlled his troops and the situation in the field

Hussein Ali Abdel-Razek, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialHussein Ali Abdel-Razek, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

Egyptian general Hussein Ali Abdel-Razek was appointed commander of the UNPROFOR Sarajevo Sector on 21 August 1992 in the midst of the artillery and sniper campaign by the Bosnian Serb army on the city. General Abdel-Razek held the post until 20 February 1993. He already testified at the trial of former commander of the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Stanislav Galic and of former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic. Now the prosecution called Abdel-Razek to testify against General Ratko Mladic.

In his evidence, the witness said that on his arrival in Sarajevo he regularly received reports about the civilian victims of shelling and sniper attacks in the city. The witness met repeatedly with the Republika Srpska civilian and military authorities to discuss the incidents. Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were usually present at the meetings. There, they would promise in a ‘positive and encouraging atmosphere’ that the situation would improve, that attacks on the city would stop and that the heavy artillery would be placed under the control of UNPROFOR, Abdel-Razek recounted. In practice however nothing changed. In a bid to justify the continuous artillery and sniper attacks, the Bosnian Serb leaders said they had to ‘return fire’ or shifted the blame on the Muslim forces who purportedly ‘shell their own people in order to provoke an international response against Serbs’.

The witness said that the troops of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps held positions around the city. The commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, Stanislav Galic, was a real professional who ‘obviously acted on the orders of his superiors’: Ratko Mladic. General Galic was convicted and sentenced to life before the Tribunal for the artillery and sniper campaign against civilians. Today the witness depicted the accused Mladic as a ‘strong personality and a charismatic leader’ who controlled his subordinate units. Soldiers always spoke about Mladic with respect, Abdel-Razek added.

The statement the witness gave to the OTP investigators in 2002 was admitted into evidence. In the statement, General Abdel-Razek said that Bosnian Serb representatives spoke openly about the need to ethnically cleanse parts of BH they claimed as theirs. Thus on one occasion Biljana Plavsic asked Abdel-Razek why UNPROFOR didn’t evacuate the people from Sarajevo. After the London conference, Radovan Karadzic told the witness that ‘Muslims should be transferred from Serb territories and Serbs removed from Muslim territories’. Karadzic later repeated the view to the witness, saying that ‘Muslims should be evacuated from Serb territories because we cannot live together anymore and there won’t be another chance as good as this one’. The witness thinks that Mladic, who was also present at the meeting, agreed with Karadzic; at that time, the Bosnian Serb political and military leaderships ‘worked in harmony’.

In Galic’s judgment, the judges said they had ‘no doubt that [General] Abdel-Razek is credible and his evidence reliable’. Abdel-Razek’s evidence led the Trial Chamber to conclude that ‘widespread and notorious attacks' on civilians in Sarajevo 'could not have occurred without it being the will of the commanders of the Bosnian Serb army”.

As the hearing drew to a close, Mladic’s defense counsel Nenad Petrusic began cross-examining the witness.