At the beginning of his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense, former RSK president Milan Martic contested the credibility of his predecessor Milan Babic. Martic said that everyone who got in contact with Babic clearly saw that he suffered from ‘paranoia and narcissism’. Martic described the accused as ‘an extremely tolerant man who doesn’t hate Muslims and Croats’

Milan Martic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMilan Martic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

After General Stanislav Galic completed his evidence, Radovan Karadzic’s defense case continued with the testimony of yet another of The Hague convicts, former president of the former Republic of Serbian Krajina Milan Martic. Karadzic read out the summary of the witness’s statement to the defense in court. In the statement Martic denied the existence of a plan to expel non-Serbs from Croatia and BH during the wars from 1991 to 1995. Martic focused specifically on contesting Milan Babic’s claims in his guilty plea and in his testimony at three trials in The Hague.

Parts of Babic’s previous testimony before the Tribunal were admitted into evidence in the case against Karadzic. In his statement to the defense team, Martic denied everything Babic had said about the beginning of the war in Krajina, about the JNA siding with the Serbs, the attacks on the Croat villages and the abuse of non-Serb civilians by the former Yugoslav army. According to Martic, an event in August 1991 shows that Babic didn’t speak the truth. At that time, Ratko Mladic, who was the Knin Corps commander, took control of 45 Croat prisoners, ‘bought them dinner and let them go’.

The witness also contested Babic’s claims that Karadzic was trying to ‘ratchet up the tensions in BH’ and lead the state into a war. Contrary to that, the accused was ‘an extremely tolerant man who doesn’t hate Muslims and Croats’. In fact, as Martic said, the accused definitely never participated in the plan to expel them from parts of BH that were claimed by the Serbs as their own. The witness was sure that the joint criminal enterprise to expel non-Serbs from Croatia and BH didn’t exist: that means that neither he nor Karadzic could be part of it.

In a brief examination-in-chief, Martic seemed to have donned a psychiatrist’s mantle. In the manner of an experienced psychiatrist, Martic said that everyone who had contacts with Babic clearly saw that he was ‘mentally ill’, and suffering from ‘paranoia and narcissism’. Martic had said something to that effect during the preparatory interview with the defense team, prompting Karadzic to seek the disclosure of the previous medical assessments of Babic’s mental health in order to be able to contest Babic’s credibility.

In a bid to prove that Babic was deranged, Martic said that in his evidence before the Tribunal Babic accused former Serb fellow fighters of crimes and yet in a letter to the peace conference in The Hague in September 1991 Babic claimed that the Croatian government was neo-fascist and compared it with the Independent State of Croatia. ‘If only that letter was interpreted in the right way, many of us would never have been indicted’, the witness said with a great deal of self-confidence. Martic believes that Babic committed suicide because his defense lawyers showed him this letter during his testimony.

Today prosecutor Tieger began cross-examining the witness. He reminded Martic that he was sentenced to 35 years for his involvement in the joint criminal enterprise. According to the judgment, Karadzic was also a member of the enterprise. Martic agreed that the judgment did indeed state that. However, he was ‘absolutely adamant’ that no such enterprise existed. It was ‘nothing but a fabrication’. The cross-examination continues on Monday.