After the fall of Srebrenica, Dane Katanic, an official in Skelani municipality, visited various sites where Muslims were detained, abused and killed. Dane Katanic nevertheless claims he neither saw or heard of the crimes. According to him, the executions of the people from Srebrenica weren’t discussed at his meetings with the accused Radovan Karadzic

Dane Katanic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicDane Katanic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

In a brief statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense team, Dane Katanic, the war-time president of the Executive Board in Skelani municipality, said that he met the accused twice after the fall of Srebrenica. According to the witness, they never discussed the killings of the Muslim detainees. Karadzic called Katanic in an effort to deny his involvement in the Srebrenica genocide, one of four joint criminal enterprises he is charged with.

The witness says that he met with Karadzic on 14 July 1995 in Pale, when he protested against Karadzic’s decision to appoint Miroslav Deronjic as the civilian commissioner in the municipality after the fall of Srebrenica. Katanic met Karadzic the second time in late July or early August 1995 when they discussed if the recently captured town should be an independent municipality or it should be part of a single municipality with Skelani. By then the mass executions of the Srebrenica Muslims were over, but Katanic claimed that they were never discussed.

In the cross-examination, the prosecutor did not focus on what was not discussed, but on what the witness knew about the crimes against the Muslim captives. The prosecutor reminded the witness that on 13 July 1995 he was in Bratunac from the morning to the late afternoon: he and some other officials from Skelani had gone there because they wanted to go to Pale to meet Karadzic, but in the end could not do it. The prosecutor asked the witness if he saw or heard from anyone that during that time thousands of Srebrenica men were detained at the football stadium, in the primary school and on the buses in Bratunac. As Katanic said, he saw the buses but it was not his job to count them or see where they were headed for. ‘I am not a very curious man and I didn’t look where I was not supposed to’, Katanic explained.

En route to Pale on 14 July 1995, the witness must have passed by the Kravica farm and, like other Karadzic’s defense witnesses, seen the bodies of hundreds of men who had been executed on that day and the day before, the prosecutor argued. The witness didn’t deny that he had taken that route but was adamant that he hadn’t seen any bodies. As he recounted, he heard that the detainees had grabbed a rifle from a Serb and killed him the day before. The incident caused ‘unrest’, the witness said. ‘I have never asked anyone what happened then. I have never heard what happened, how it happened and where it happened’, the witness said, adding that some Muslims ‘had been killed’ after the fall of Srebrenica, but he didn’t know any details.

In a bid to contest the witness’s credibility, the prosecutor showed a photo from a 1996 rally in support of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Karadzic and Mladic were at large at the time, fugitives from international justice. The photo shows a child standing in front of a group of protesters including Katanic. The child is holding up a banner saying ‘I am a war criminal’. The, witness admitted that he was in that photo but, as he claimed ‘I don’t have a clue and can’t remember’ that having taken part in that protest.

Radovan Karadzic’s trial continues tomorrow with the evidence of a new defense witness, Bosnian Serb army officer Svetozar Kosoric.