In his evidence at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, witness Zdravko Cvora said he could ‘guarantee that Muslims were not forced to move out of Pale’, despite the fact that in a letter to Biljana Plavsic in July 1992 Cvoro complained about ‘Muslims being forced to move out’

Zdravko Cvoro, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicZdravko Cvoro, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Zdravko Cvoro, former president of the Crisis Staff and the Executive Board of Pale municipality said he could ‘guarantee that Muslims were not forced to move out of Pale’. In his evidence at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, the witness said that the municipal authorities guaranteed that all rights of Muslims would be respected, that he personally tried to convince them to stay, but in the end they left Pale ‘voluntarily’. Through Cvoro’s testimony, Karadzic is trying to contest the evidence of Sulejman Crncalo, who testified about the expulsion of Muslims from Pale in late June and early July 1992.

During the prosecution case, Crncalo described how Muslims were fired, detained and pressured in other ways by the Serb authorities in an effort to make them leave Pale. In the spring of 1992, Nikola Koljevic told Muslims on behalf of the government that they were not wanted in Pale because ‘Serbs don’t want to live with Muslims anymore’, Crncalo recounted in his evidence. According to Crncalo, a rally was held in Pale in June 1992. Karadzic told the Serbs that ‘every Muslim house wherever it may be should be attacked, that is the way to defend one’s own house’.

In his written statement to Karadzic’s defense, Cvoro said that Muslims felt unsafe. In Cvoro’s opinion, they were afraid that they might be victims of revenge for the crimes against Serbs committed by their compatriots. As a result, they wanted to leave. The witness said that the Serb authorities ‘helped’ them leave Pale by organizing convoys. All Muslims were able to take their personal possessions with them and they ‘protected’ the other property by signing agreements on safekeeping or by exchanging property with Serbs.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Tieger noted that in a letter to Biljana Plavsic on 7 July 1992 the witness wrote ‘Muslims were forced to move out’ from Pale. Cvoro replied that he in fact wanted to say that Muslims ‘misinterpreted’ the Assembly decision of 18 June 1992 that every citizen had a constitutional right to choose where they wanted to live. In Cvoro’s words, Muslims interpreted this decision as a sign that they should leave. Cvoro did admit that some Serbs from Pale also ‘misinterpreted’ the Assembly’s decision and put pressure on the Muslims to go. The prosecutor noted that Cvoro ‘forgot’ to specify this aspect in his written statement to the defense.

The prosecutor put it to the witness that the Serb police pressured Muslims into moving out from Pale and that the witness criticized this phenomenon at a municipal assembly meeting on 18 June 1992, at which the moving out of non-Serbs was discussed. Cvoro claimed that at the meeting he criticized the police because he was unhappy with their efforts to inventory and guard the abandoned property, not because they had pressured the Muslims to move out.

After Zdravko Cvoro completed his evidence, Karadzic called Milan Pejic, former director of the Ear, Nose and Throat Ward in Kosevo.