In a bid to convince the Trial Chamber at Radovan Karadzic’s trial that most of the civilian victims in Sarajevo were ‘collateral damage’ of legitimate military attacks, General Stanislav Galic argued neither he nor any of his officers had issued any written order to attack civilians. Galic invited the prosecutor to show him ‘the fool’ who could have written something like that

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

On the sixth day of his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense, former commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Stanislav Galic went on denying that the Bosnian Serb army was responsible for the civilian casualties in Sarajevo. Galic’s main argument is that there is not a single written order issued by any of the Corps’s officers to attack civilians with snipers and artillery. As the cross-examination continued, Galic invited prosecutor Edgerton to show him ‘the fool’ who could have written something like that.

The prosecution contends that the sheer number of the victims in Sarajevo proves that the Bosnian Serb army intended to terrorize the population in the city. The indictment against Radovan Karadzic lists a number of sniper and artillery incidents with civilian casualties. The prosecutor recalled the demographic evidence showing that 253 civilians were killed and 1,295 wounded while Galic was the corps commander. The witness replied that the figures should be divided by the number of days in the 23 months of his tenure as the corps commander. Galic, who commanded the Corps from 1992 to 1994, suggested that the number of civilian victims per day was all but negligible. Also, Galic claimed that civilians were not deliberately targeted, except in some isolated cases where Serb soldiers wanted to retaliate. In all other cases, civilians were actually collateral damage. As for the incidents that were the result of retaliation, Galic could not have known about them at the relevant time.

One example of the ‘collateral damage’ is the wounding of 13-year old Seid Solak who was window shopping in Cengic vila with his mother and sister. The prosecutor noted that Solak was hit in the part of the town where there were no BH Army positions, according to the statements provided by the soldiers from Galic’s Corps. At his own trial at the Tribunal, at which he was sentenced to life, he heard that ‘some troops’ were passing through that area. He implied that those soldiers happened to be passing by the shop window at the same time as the boy. In a bid to convince the Trial Chamber that his collateral damage theory was valid, Galic said that in some cases, ‘there were civilians on the first floor, soldiers on the second floor, and both civilians and soldiers on the third floor’ of the same building.

The witness made similar claims when he was asked about the mortar attacks in Sarajevo. In some situations, Galic blamed the BH Army for those attacks. In the examination-in-chief, Galic claimed that the shell that killed 66 and wounded 140 persons at the Markale town market on 5 February 1994 had not been fired from the Bosnian Serb positions. Galic explained that a commission established by his Corps had visited the location from which the shell may have been fired. The commission saw that there was snow on the mortar covers, showing that mortars had not been used. In the cross-examination today, the witness was not able to say who exactly visited the location or who told him about the findings of the purported investigation.

When the prosecutor asked Galic if he had ever responded to the international observers’ protests occasioned by the attacks on civilians with anything but denial, Galic said he did not. As he explained, he couldn’t accept the responsibility because he was not given any proof that a sniper shot or a mortar attack had been caused by his units. The only thing Galic admitted was that in some cases there was disproportionate use of force when his troops responded to the attacks from the city. Some officers were demoted for it, Galic claimed.

Galic’s cross-examination will end tomorrow.