A former Serb soldier from Foca and a municipality official from Ilidza testified in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. The witnesses claimed that in 1992 Muslim civilians voluntarily left those municipalities and that the Serb authorities helped them by providing transportation. The prosecution contends that the ‘help’ took the form of detention, rape, abuse, murder and other forms of repression

Trivko Pljevaljcic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicTrivko Pljevaljcic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Former member of the Bosnian Serb army from Foca Trivko Pljevaljcic tried to confirm Radovan Karadzic’s defense case about the events in Foca during the war in BH. Pljevaljcic claimed that Muslims had started the conflict in the municipality. According to the witness, Muslims got armed first and launched an artillery attack against the Serbs in the town in April 1992. The artillery in fact consisted of a single mortar and a makeshift multiple rocket launcher and the Serb forces easily ‘liberated’ Foca in the following days.

The witness contends that the Serb units in the municipality were organized ‘spontaneously’ without any help from the SDS. In combat, those units acted independently, without the JNA support, the witness said. According to the witness, when they seized Foca and the neighboring villages, civilians were transferred to several locations where they were held under guard to prevent ‘unwanted persons’ from getting in. Most of the civilians whose safety was purportedly guarded in those facilities left Foca by the summer of 1992. Pljevaljcic claims that they left ‘voluntarily’. The Serb authorities didn’t pressure them in any way to leave, the witness said: they just provided the buses when it became clear that the Muslims didn’t want to remain in Foca. In a bid to show that some people did not fear for their safety and that the Serb authorities allowed non-Serbs to stay, Pljevaljcic said that ‘a Muslim goldsmith and several’ of his compatriots remained in the town.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Uertz-Retzlaff noted that the ‘liberators’ of Foca included Gojko Jankovic, Dragoljub Kunarac, Zoran Vukovic and Radomir Kovac and some other members of the Bosnian Serb army and police who were sentenced by the Tribunal and the BH State Court to long-term prison sentences for the torture and rape of Bosniak girls and women. The witness replied that he didn’t know about those crimes but remembered that some of the convicts the prosecutor mentioned were ‘good fighters’. The witness explained that problems were caused by the paramilitary groups from Serbia and Montenegro and not by local Serbs. The prosecutor put it to the witness that, rape was not the only crime against the Muslims in Foca: they were detained, tortured and murdered and their houses were set on fire. The witness replied he had no knowledge of these occurrence because it happened ‘on the opposite side’ of the place where he was stationed.

Slavko Mijanovic was called to the witness stand after Pljevaljcic completed his evidence. Mijanovic is a former member of the municipal Crisis Staff in Ilidza. In his statement to the defense, Mijanovic said that Muslims from Ilidza left ‘of their own will’. Their apartments were temporarily assigned to Serb refugees from other parts of BH; this was done in accordance with the law. The witness contends that the Serb authorities in Pale never ordered the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Ilidza or endangered their rights.

At the beginning of the cross-examination, prosecutor showed a report of the Serb police from Ilidza, which states that in 1992 local Muslims were brought in for interrogation; the ‘repressive actions’ against them ‘resulted in them leaving the area’. The witness unsurprisingly replied that he didn’t know anything about it.

Slavko Mijanovic will complete his evidence on Tuesday.

Trivko Pljevaljcic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic
Slavko Mijanovic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic