Although he has been given a subpoena compelling him to testify, former VRS general Radislav Krstic has refused to testify in the defense case of the former RS president Radovan Karadzic, claiming his ‘mental and physical health’ deteriorated. The Trial Chamber has demanded ‘additional medical reports’ on Krstic’s health

Radislav Krstic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicRadislav Krstic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

General Radislav Krstic, former commander of the VRS Drina Corps, sentenced to 35 years in prison for complicity in the Srebrenica genocide, today refused to testify in the defense of his former commander-in-chief and Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic.

Krstic appeared in court after he was given a subpoena; he pleaded ill mental and physical health: the ‘very thought’ that he would have to testify in court has caused ‘a strong stress reaction’. As he explained, he told Karadzic about his position but Karadzic ‘disregarded it because he has his goal he wants to achieve at any cost’. ‘I however cannot stand him trampling all over me, not when my health is so bad, all in the name of his goal’, Krstic added. To demand that he testify in such a situation, Krstic contended, would be ‘unreasonable and inhumane’: it would be ‘an act of violence”.

In their decision to issue a subpoena to Krstic from October 2012, the judges accepted Karadzic’s argument that Krstic’s testimony would assist the defense to establish crucial facts. One of these facts is that the two of them, – Krstic and Karadzic – ‘never had any conversations or planned any crimes`. Krstic’s testimony, as Karadzic argued, would be relevant for the establishment of Karadzic’s intent – or lack thereof – to commit genocide since Krstic, as he said, ‘never notified me about the execution of the prisoners from Srebrenica’. As Karadzic claimed, their conversation relating to Operation Krivaja 95 was ‘limited exclusively to the planned separation of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa’.

After Krstic’s explanation, Karadzic said he stood by his demand. As he explained to the judges, he had ‘full understanding of Krstic’s recent ordeals’ but he still wanted to ask him ‘at least two questions’.

After a brief consultation, the judges invited Krstic to make the solemn declaration and to testify. He repeated that ‘with all due respect to the Trial Chamber’ he remained unwilling to give evidence. He was duly warned that the refusal to comply with a subpoena would ‘incur consequences’ and that he faced possible contempt of court charges. Krstic’s lawyer Tomislav Visnjic confirmed that ‘the general is aware of the consequences of the refusal to comply with a subpoena’, but had made the decision himself, with all that in mind.

After a one-hour break, the judges said they would need ‘additional medical reports’ on Radislav Krstic’s health, ordering the Registry to provide a new, more ‘detailed’ medical report on Krstic’s mental and physical health. As the judges ordered, the doctors should determine in particular whether and to what extent Krstic’s testimony at this trial could be detrimental to his health. They should also see if Krstic is mentally fit to testify, i.e., whether he can understand the questions and provide ‘truthful and rational’ answers.

Radovan Karadzic’s trial was then adjourned until next Tuesday, when the court will hear a new witness called by the former Republika Srpska president. Karadzic is on trial for genocide and other crimes in BH between 1992 and 1995.