General Dragomir Milosevic contends that the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps never attacked civilians in Sarajevo. He blamed the other side for the civilian casualties, saying that the BH Army attacked ‘its own citizens’. Sometimes they did it on purpose, to blame the attacks on the Serbs, and sometimes by accident when they mishandled the mortars or when the criminal clans in the city fought each other, Milosevic explained

Dragomir Milosevic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicDragomir Milosevic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

As the examination-in-chief of General Dragomir Milosevic continued, the accused Radovan Karadzic didn’t devote much time to asking the witness about the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps which was under his command. Karadzic instead focused on the positions and operations of the BH Army in Sarajevo, in a bid to convince the Trial Chamber that there were many military targets in the residential areas of the city, and a strong military presence. This, in Karadzic’s view, justifies the intense artillery and sniper fire on the city. General Milosevic, who commanded the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps from 1994 to the end of 1995, was sentenced by the Tribunal to 29 years for the terror campaign against the citizens of Sarajevo.

The witness said that the BH Army 1st Corps was deployed in the greater Sarajevo area. It had three divisions, one in the city and two in the environs. The 12th Division was stationed in the city: it comprised eight brigades, with great many battalions and companies. General Milosevic contends that each of these units had HQs in civilian buildings such as schools, shops, bars, businesses and in the Kosevo Hospital. Milosevic contends that there were 275 such HQs in all; they were all legitimate military targets. In Milosevic’s words, there was ‘not a single civilian zone in the city without any military targets’.

The accused general insisted that the 1st Corps had far more personnel than the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps; as for the BH Army’s 12th Division, it was much better armed. Milosevic said there were between 140 and 150 mortars of different caliber, more than 20 guns, about 10 howitzers, three tanks and a large number of snipers that targeted Serb positions. Milosevic praised the enemy officers in the city, saying that their actions were always carefully planned and professionally carried out. Nevertheless, such a strong and well trained military force never managed to cross the lines of the purportedly far weaker Serb army that was able to successfully hold Sarajevo under siege for four years.

General Milosevic resolutely denied that his corps had targeted civilians in the city. On the contrary, Milosevic argued, his troops only responded to attacks originating from the city, but only when it was established that there would be no civilian casualties. If that was not the case, his troops did not fire. The witness’s explanation for the large number of civilian victims of artillery attacks has been heard before from other witnesses: the BH Army ‘attacked its own people’, the citizens of their Sarajevo. The witness said that in most cases they did it on purpose, to convince the international community that the Serbs were to blame. At other times, due to improper handling of the mortars, the rounds couldn’t reach the Serb positions and fell on the city. In some cases, the shells went off even before they were fired. Finally, the witness said that sometimes ‘clans’ in the city engaged in artillery duels as they fought over territory. As a result, civilian areas were also hit. The defense tried to corroborate the claim that such ‘self-targeting’ was a rule rather than an exception by showing wartime documents with Milosevic’s signature in which he states that the ‘enemy forces are firing on their own territory’.

General Milosevic will continue his testimony tomorrow afternoon or on Monday. Milenko Indjic’s cross-examination is due to proceed tomorrow morning. Indjic was on Milosevic’s staff during the war.