Radovan Karadzic’s defense witness Momir Garic denies he took part in several intercepted conversations describing an attack Garic’s unit launched on the area around Vrbanja Bridge in Sarajevo. Garic says he couldn’t recall ever having those conversations, and claims the voice sounded like ‘that of a child’. He also said there were no such attacks. The witness was also adamant that his nickname was not ‘Momo’; this nickname was used in the audio recordings

Momir Garic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMomir Garic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Momir Garic is yet another witness called by Radovan Karadzic to speak about the defensive nature of the VRS; according to him, the VRS never attacked civilians in Sarajevo but suffered heavy losses in the attacks the Muslim forces launched from the city.

Karadzic read out the summary of Garic’s statement in the courtroom. Garic worked in the Territorial Defense Staff in Novo Sarajevo from 1985. In March 1992, the witness ‘advised’ the Serb inhabitants how to organize their self-defense. Garic contends that the Serb members of the Territorial Defense never attacked the areas with a Muslim majority. According to Garic, they only defended their own homes. In early 1992, the witness’s unit became part of the JNA 216th Mountain Motorized Brigade, later part of the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. In late 1992, Garic joined the Ministry of Defense.

After reading out the summary of the statement, Karadzic didn’t have any questions for the witness and it was prosecutor Katrina Gustafson’s turn to cross-examine Garic. She put it to the witness that the events in Sarajevo differed from the description he provided in his statement. To illustrate the point, she played several intercepted conversations recorded on 21 April 1991. A person who introduced himself as Momo Garic asked for reinforcements for his unit which had ‘gone down to the River Miljacka, to the Vrbanja Bridge, the Elektroprivreda building and got surrounded there’. The persons who speak in the intercepts included the president of the Ilidza Crisis Staff Nedeljko Prstojevic and Momcilo Krajisnik, speaker of the RS Assembly.

After each recording, Garic was adamant that he couldn’t recall ever having such a conversation. As he said, it seemed to him ‘like a parallel world’; his voice sounded to him like the ‘voice of a child’. Garic insisted that he knew Prstojevic only by sight and they never spoke over the phone. Prosecutor Gustafson told the witness that in his evidence in The Hague, Prstojevic confirmed he had spoken several times to Garic that day. Garic insisted it ‘cannot be true’.

Garic claimed that the unit definitely never did go so deep into the city center and that they only ‘defended the Serb hearths’. Indeed, they didn’t have enough personnel or arms to mount such actions. Sometimes, individuals would come down into the city, but there never were any organized actions, the witness said. Garic contends that he spoke over the phone with Krajisnik only once in relation to his family’s subsistence. When a conversation in which he talked to Krajisnik about the losses suffered in an action at the Vrbanja Bridge was played to Garic, he denied once again that it was his voice.

In a bid to contest the authenticity of intercepted conversations, the witness insisted he was not called Momo, the nickname used by the people in the intercepts; his nicknames were Moka, Moca and Mocalo. When the prosecutor told him he was named Momo Garic on Karadzic’s witness list, he could once again express his surprise.