Radovan Karadzic’s defense witness contends that before responding to the BH Army fire from Alipasino Polje, the Ilidza Brigade first established if there were civilians in the 200-meter radius from the target to avoid civilian casualties. The prosecutor noted that the witness had never mentioned that piece of information in the statements he had given to the defense team

Nikola Mijatovic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicNikola Mijatovic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

In the examination-in chief of Nikola Mijatovic, former chief of security and later chief of staff in the VRS Ilidza Brigade, Radovan Karadzic showed excerpts from the video footage of a rally held in late 1995. At the rally, the witness spoke about 15,000 Serbs who had been killed in Sarajevo and the prison camps for Serbs throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mijatovic today said he was given this information by the Serbs who were leaving the city and the civilian and military intelligence services. At the same rally, Mijatovic claimed that the massacre in the bread queue in Vase Miskina Street and the two attacks on the Markale market were carried out by Muslims who were ‘sacrificing their civilians’. The witness claimed that a sound engineer from Radio Sarajevo who had fled to the Serb side told him that the bread queue massacre had been ‘staged’.

The prosecutor devoted most of her time in the cross-examination to the effort to get a direct answer to her questions. The witness kept on repeating as a mantra that his brigade never attacked civilians and that they only responded to the enemy fire.

The witness identified nine buildings in Alipasino Polje he considered to be military targets because the BH Army opened fire from them. In addition to the police station and the military barracks, the facilities included underground garages and shelters, a students’ dorm and a nursing home. In the witness’s opinion, the BH Army kept its cannons and mortars in the underground garages and shelters. Also, the witness marked the dorm and the nursing home as sniper’s nests. The buildings were shelled not to cause casualties but to ‘intimidate’ and deter the BH Army from further attacks on Serb positions, the witness explained.

The witness dismissed the prosecutor’s suggestion that the mortar attacks on such targets carried a risk of civilian casualties from shrapnel dispersion. Targets were shelled only after his battalion’s observers established there were no civilians in the 200-meter radius from the target, he said. Prosecutor Carolyn Edgerton noted that the witness had never mentioned the observers either in his statement to the defense team or in the preparatory interview with the accused. The witness first claimed that he had mentioned it and couldn’t say why it had not been noted. At length, he admitted there was very little time to prepare for the testimony and it was possible he didn’t say everything.

The prosecutor argued that the witness had never mentioned the 200-meter radius either. The Trial Chamber hearing the case against Gotovina and Markac had set this standard to establish whether an attack was a legitimate military action or an unlawful attack on civilians. Mijatovic was adamant that he ‘has the feeling’ he mentioned the 200-meter radius at the trial of Stanislav Galic. Galic, one of the former commanders of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, was sentenced to life for artillery and sniper campaign against Sarajevo.

At the end of his evidence, Mijatovic said that Karadzic was ‘adored by the Serb people’. Serbs wouldn’t be ‘free’ and they wouldn’t be still present on the Bosnian side of the Drina River had it not been for Karadzic, the witness said.