Surgeon Veljko Maric claims that all patients in the Foca Hospital were treated the same regardless of their ‘religion, ethnic background or color of skin’. Maric argued that Muslim doctors and other staff left the Foca Hospital ‘voluntarily’. The witness was unaware that some of his Muslim colleagues had been detained in the KP Dom, held in cells without heating, or that they had been starved, killed by diseases or beaten to death

Veljko Maric, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicVeljko Maric, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the evidence of a surgeon, Veljko Maric. Maric, who worked in the Foca Hospital during the war, claimed that all patients were treated the same there regardless of their ‘religion, ethnic background or color of skin’. Muslim doctors and other hospital staff left the Foca Hospital ‘voluntarily; they were not pressured by the local Serb authorities, the witness claimed. Karadzic tendered into evidence the witness’s written statement together with various hospital documents, which show that from April to late September 1992, 268 Muslims were treated in the Foca Hospital.

In the cross-examination prosecutor Amir Zec played Momcilo Krajisnik’s speech from May 1994, in which he said he was glad that ‘today […]I see a real Serb town’ which ‘by rights’ now has a new name, Srbinje. The prosecutor also quoted Miroslav Stanic, member of the Foca Crisis Staff, who said that Foca citizens no longer ‘have headaches caused by the muezzins singing from the minaret tops’. When the prosecutor put it to the witness that by the end of 1993 there were no longer any mosques or muezzins left in Foca, Maric replied that it was ‘politics and I don’t know anything about it’.

Maric also claimed he was unaware that his colleagues, doctors Amir Perberkic, Aziz Torlak and Ibrahim Karovic, male nurses Mato Ivancic, Izet Causevic, Zeco Mehmedspahic and others were detained in the Foca KP Dom. The witness didn’t know that they were held in wintertime in cells without heating or that they were starved, killed by diseases or beaten to death. The prosecutor reminded the witness that when Dr Perberkic testified at Krnojelac’s trial, he said that gynecologist Cedomir Dragovic visited them once a week in the KP Dom. Dr Perberkic testified that Dragovic never examined the detainees at all but only asked them about their health status. The witness said ‘I don’t see how that fits with the Hippocratic oath’.

The witness said in his statement to Karadzic’s defense that 15 Muslim children were admitted to the hospital from April to December 1992. This prompted the prosecutor to ask Maric if he knew that those children had been through terrible trauma when they had to watch their parents being expelled or killed. ‘Of course, I am a hospital doctor’, replied Maric. When Karadzic and his legal advisor Robinson intervened, Maric said that he wasn’t a pediatrician and that he didn’t know anything about those events. The prosecutor also said that the Foca authorities tried to exchange the Muslim children for the captured VRS soldiers or Serbs in the territory under the control of the BH Army.

As the presiding judge Kwon noted, since the beginning of the trial Karadzic has been insisting he intends to contest all the allegations in the indictment. However, in the past few days Karadzic called several witnesses who confirmed that some crimes were committed, particularly in relation to Srebrenica. This has led the judges to assume that Karadzic might accept that some crimes were in fact committed, but would base his defense on contesting his personal responsibility and links with the crimes. The judges asked Karadzic to contact the OTP either in person or through his legal advisor to see if they can reach an agreement on some other ‘agreed facts’. This, as Judge Kwon said, would not only save a lot of time, but the Trial Chamber and the parties could focus on more relevant issues.