TRUTH AND UNTRUTH ABOUT SREBRENICA
Radovan Karadzic’s defense witness tried to contest the findings of the RS government commission on the killing of thousands of Srebrenica Muslims in July 1995. The witness claimed that the truth was not established but didn’t offer his version of the events in Srebrenica
Continuing the cross-examination of former police officer from Bijeljina Dusan Spasojevic, prosecutor Gustafson put it to him that during the war, there were no prosecutions for the crimes against civilians. Some of the murderers have been brought to court only recently, she said. The prosecutor showed evidence that in some cases, like the murder of several Muslim families in September 1993, the police was involved in the effort to remove the bodies and cover up the crime. After Ramo Alic was killed and his daughter and daughter-in-law were raped in June 1992, there was an investigation but the three culprits have been tried only in Belgrade recently and have been sentenced to years in prison. Spasojevic replied that during the war there were no trials because the Republika Srpska judiciary, particularly the military branch, ‘did not have much training’.
After the war, the witness took part in the investigations conducted by the Republika Srpska Srebrenica Commission. In 2004, the Commission delivered its report on the execution of thousands of Srebrenica Muslims in July 1995. In his statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense, the witness said that the information in the report was not correct, because the people killed in combat or before the Serbs entered Srebrenica were listed among the victims. The prosecutor read an excerpt from the report stating that thousands of Muslims were killed at the Kravica Farm, another 1,500 to 2,000 at a field in Orahovac, thousands were executed at the Branjevo farm, 500 in Kozluk and 500 in the Pilica Cultural Center. ‘Tell me what is incorrect here,’ the prosecutor asked the witness. The witness’s first answer was that he didn’t know anything about it. When Judge Kwon was prompted to ask some follow-up questions, the witness explained he didn’t know anything about it at the time the events took place. Now, ‘I know everything’, the witness said, adding, ‘I don’t contest the fact that the crimes happened’. What he did contest was the claim that the truth about the crimes was established. He didn’t offer a new version of the truth.
In the re-examination, Karadzic denied the findings of the Republika Srpska government commission by referring to the public appearances of a Srebrenica war commander. He quoted from a recent report of the SRNA news agency in which Hakija Meholjic said that the Sarajevo authorities had sacrificed Srebrenica. As Spasojevic said, Meholjic told him ‘police officer to police officer’ that the wretched people from Srebrenica were left ‘at the mercy [of the captors]’. Spasojevic didn’t deny the crimes, except to claim that 75 persons who didn’t die in July 1995 were buried together with the victims at the Potocari cemetery.
Karadzic’s next defense witness Dragomir Ljubojevic was a local official in Bijeljina and a Bosnian Serb army soldier during the war. In his statement to the defense team, Ljubojevic denied that Muslims were expelled from Bijeljina municipality. According to Ljuboljevic, the media presented the false picture of ethnic cleansing in the parts of BH that were claimed by the Serbs. In the cross-examination, the witness was confronted with the documents of the International Red Cross from August and September 1994. The documents state that 2,500 Muslims were forcibly expelled from the town: they left in eight organized convoys. Ljuboljevic replied that foreigners wrote ‘dramatic reports to keep their positions’. It was ‘a humane relocation’ of the people who had expressed their desire to leave, the witness explained.
In the re-examination, Karadzic asked a question that prompted the witness to shower Karadzic with compliments. He called the accused ‘a humanist and a legalist’ who tried hard to avoid the tragedy. ‘It’s a real pity’ that there were no people like Karadzic on the other side, the witness said: it would have made BH today ‘by far a happier and more prosperous country’.Radovan Karadzic’s defense case will continue next week. Former Trebinje mayor Mirko Vucurevic is slated to give evidence. On Monday, Karadzic will try again to examine former Drina Corps commander Radislav Krstic. In February, Krstic refused to testify citing health reasons.