Karadzic’s last witness for this year, Colonel Mihajlo Vujasin contends that the people from the village of Ahatovici near Sarajevo left their houses ‘voluntarily’ after the arrival of the Serb army. They could return once the fighting was over, but decided not to, Vujasin argued. The trial resumes on 15 January 2013

Mihajlo Vujasin, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMihajlo Vujasin, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

In his statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense, former chief engineer in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Mihajlo Vujasin said that the Bosnian Serb army didn’t have trained snipers positioned around Sarajevo. Vujasin also claimed he didn’t know that modified air bombs were launched on the city. In his cross-examination today, Vujasin clarified and expanded those claims.

Vujasin admitted that some Serb soldiers put optical sights to ordinary rifles and thus ‘increased the precision’ of the arms. Vujasin nevertheless denied that they fired at civilians in Sarajevo. Vujasin said he knew about the testing of modified air bombs in late 1993 and early 1994 but didn’t know if they were later used to target the city. The prosecution alleges that during the four years of the siege, the Bosnian Serb army terrorized the population of Sarajevo with snipers, shelling and highly inaccurate modified air bombs.

As the cross-examination continued, prosecutor Kimberly West showed a report on the attack of the VRS Rajlovac Brigade on the village of Ahatovici in 1992. At that time, there were about 1,000 Muslims in the village. At the end of the war, only one Muslim family remained in the village. The witness was the deputy commander of the Rajlovac Brigade in that period. Vujasin claimed that the civilians had left the village ‘voluntarily’ and could return to their homes after the fighting was over. They didn’t do so because of a ‘difficult set of circumstances’, Vujasin explained.

The prosecutor put it to the witness that some of the men from the village of Ahatovici were detained in inhumane conditions, tortured and abused in several locations in Rajlovac. Colonel Vujasin replied that Muslim ‘refugees’ were accommodated only in the military barracks in Rajlovac. Isolated cases of beating were reported, Vujasin said, and the culprits were Serb civilians, refugees from Pofalici. The army faced ‘immense problems in its efforts to prevent unfortunate actions’ which stemmed from the civilians’ desire to take their revenge on the Muslims whom they blamed for their fate.

In a bid to contest the witness’s credibility, the prosecutor used some Republika Srpska intelligence documents, which show that, Vujasin was not popular among the troops because he ‘neglected military tasks and organized parties in the military barracks’. One report states that when Vujasin was dismissed from the post of deputy commander of the Rajlovac Brigade and transferred to the corps command in September 1992, the troops were ‘delighted’. Vujasin replied that the animosity was the result of his opposition to the municipal civilian authorities and his determination not to carry out unnecessary attacks.

The evidence of the VRS colonel brought to a close Radovan Karadzic’s defense case for this year. The trial will resume on 15 January 2013.