Former Sarajevo-Romanija Corps commander has continued his testimony in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. Galic denied his subordinates were responsible for the attacks on Sarajevo civilians but at one point he backed down and admitted that he would ‘surely have dealt with [some of these incidents] differently’ if he had knew then what he knows now. Claiming that the army under the control of Karadzic and Mladic was not guilty of the crimes, the witness said ‘only 36 per cent’ of all the people killed in Sarajevo had been civilians

Stanislav Galic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicStanislav Galic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Radovan Karadzic has denied that the Bosnian Serb army is responsible for the sniper attacks on Sarajevo civilians; to corroborate his case, he used the fact that the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps reports don’t explicitly state that fire was opened from the Serb positions. Stanislav Galic’s evidence builds on Karadzic’s claims. Galic contends that he has nothing to do with those crimes, despite the fact that he was sentenced to life by the Tribunal for the sniper and artillery terror campaign against the citizens of Sarajevo.

Karadzic discussed ten sniper incidents alleged in the indictment; the incidents took place at the time when Galic was the corps commander, from September 1992 to August 1994. Civilians were wounded and killed in the incidents; several children aged three to 16 were among the victims. The prosecution alleges that the victims were attacked from the positions held by Galic’s corps, in different situations and on different locations – in trams, buses, as they rode their bikes, as they window shopped or went to get water. Asked if he or some of his subordinate officers had ordered the attacks or knew about them, the witness said that was not the case. As he explained, during the siege, the people of Sarajevo used buses and trams, went to markets, walked the streets…and he didn’t know what else he had to do to make it possible for them to live normal lives.

During the examination, the accused showed several reports signed by Galic and his associates. All reports state that the ‘enemy’ violated ceasefires and that the Serb army didn’t respond to provocations but only ‘stepped up reconnaissance and observation’. The documents all follow the same template. The reports state that the enemy will probably continue with provoking actions, and might target UNPROFOR, in order to blame these attacks on Serbs. The accused and the witness agreed that the attacks on civilians in Sarajevo would surely have been referred to in the reports had the Bosnian Serb army known about them, yet there is no mention of them.

From time to time, the witness did tone down his explicit denials of the Serb army’s responsibility for the incidents. He thus repeated several times that ‘it was unlikely’ that fire was opened from the corps positions, because no orders were received to ‘harass, terrorize and attack’ civilians. Galic said he hadn’t been aware of the incidents at the time; in fact, he learned about them at his own trial.

This prompted Presiding Judge Kwon to ask Galic if based on what he knew today he allowed the possibility that the Bosnian Serb forces had indeed opened fire on the victims listed in the indictment. Galic admitted that the ‘evidence available today definitely shows that the incidents did happen’. Given what he knew today, Galic would ‘surely have dealt differently’ with some of those incidents. In full damage control mode, Karadzic butted in, asking if ‘every Serb with a rifle’ was under his command. The witness said no, adding that the Bosnian Serb army had a lot of problems with out-of-control paramilitaries.

To show just how committed the Bosnian Serb authorities and army were to protecting the Sarajevo citizens, the witness presented some interesting percentages regarding civilian casualties in various contexts. In the World War I, the witness said, only 5 per cent of the total number of victims were civilians. This figure rose to 40 per cent in the World War II. As war ‘tactics and equipment’ improved, this figure rose to 80 per cent in the Korean War and 90 per cent in the Vietnam War. In the last conflict in Iraq 96 per cent of all victims were civilians. At the same time, 40 per cent of all casualties in BH were civilians; the percentage in Sarajevo was even lower, and stood at 36 per cent. This shows how careful the Serb units besieging the city were of the wellbeing of its inhabitants.

General Galic continues his evidence tomorrow.