Former president of the Vlasenica municipality and Crisis Staff voiced his ‘suspicions’ that the prosecution was given ‘custom-made documents by someone in order to verify false stories’. One of the ‘false stories’ is that the Serbs forcibly seized power in the municipality and expelled and detained Muslims

Milenko Stanic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMilenko Stanic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Tensions between Muslims and Serbs in the Vlasenica municipality started increasing after the multi-party elections, according to the pre-war president of the Vlasenica Municipal Board Milenko Stanic. He says so in his statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense.

In the summary of the statement read out by Karadzic the witness said that the Serbs tried to agree to a division of power in the municipality, but the negotiations failed because the Muslim side pulled out. According to Stanic, the local Territorial Defense was mobilized on 21 April, with the aim to prevent the looting of property ‘without resorting to violence’. A ‘collection center’ was set up in Susica to accommodate ‘the refugees from all ethnic groups’. The witness also said that Karadzic never ‘issued any orders to expel Muslims and attack their villages’. Finally, Stanic ‘didn’t get the impression’ that there was any hate or calls for revenge in Karadzic’s speech at a Serb soldier’s funeral.

The cross-examination was marked by the witness’s denial of the authenticity of most of the documents showed to him by prosecutor Ann Sutherland. First, the witness denied that the Serb Autonomous Region of Birac ever existed under that name. According to the witness, it was an ‘autonomous region’ without an ethnic prefix. The witness offered various explanations for each document he was shown where the epithet ‘Serb’ was used. Thus, the witness explained that the clerk ‘didn’t think about the terminology’ when in February 1992 he took the minutes from the meeting of the SAO Birac. According to the witness, an article published in the Belgrade daily Politika naming him as the president of the SAO Birac was ‘an interpretation of the journalist’.

The witness called the document of 19 April 1992 which details the preparations for the takeover of power in the municipality ‘false’ contesting the stamp and the signature. Stanic claimed that the Serbs had established their authorities on 13 April 1992 after the negotiations with Muslims and not after 22 April 1992 when the army occupied the town institutions. As the witness explained, the Crisis Staff’s decision of 19 April 1992 to disarm the local police was ‘very stupid’ and ‘a planted document’. The report of the 1st Vlasenica Brigade from 1994, which describes the role of the Crisis Staff in the takeover of power, was also ‘untrue’. The witness claimed that the Crisis Staff ‘never interfered’ with military operations.

The witness dismissed the prosecutor’s suggestion that he personally drafted the document on the establishment of the Territorial Defense staff because it was signed with his surname. The witness alleged that the Tribunal’s OTP was given ‘custom-made documents by somebody, in order to verify false stories’.

In the re-examination, Stanic agreed with the accused Karadzic that Serbs in fact ‘didn’t take’ the power in Vlasenica: in fact, they merely ‘continued being the power’.