Former Bosnian Serb prime minister Vladimir Lukic continued his testimony in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. Lukic claimed that the authorities cared for the refugees regardless of their ethnic background. The prosecutor countered the claim, showing war-time statements made by Serb officials who sought to prevent the Croats and Muslims from returning. The officials, the prosecutor noted, wanted to settle Serb refugees into the homes abandoned by Croats and Muslims to create a ‘new demographic picture’

Vladimir Lukic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicVladimir Lukic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

In his statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense team, former Republika Srpska prime minister Vladimir Lukic said that during the war his government cared for the refugees regardless of their ethnic community and did all it could to facilitate their return. As the cross-examination continued, the prosecutor put it to Lukic that his government cared only for Serb refugees and used them to populate parts abandoned by Croats and Muslims in order to change the demographic picture.

Prosecutor Gustafson showed several statements made by Bosnian Serb officials at the sessions of the government and assembly. First, minister without portfolio Velibor Ostojic twice said that settling the Serb refugees in some parts of Republika Srpska should secure the ‘ethnic and geographic continuity’ and create a ‘new demographic picture’. A deputy in the Assembly Vojislav Maksimovic wanted to ‘prohibit Croats and Muslims from returning’ to the territory under the Bosnian Serb control. Radovan Karadzic responded that such a prohibition would not be legal. As he said, during the negotiations, he proposed a ‘comprehensive’ return of the refugees, on both sides, and the Croat and Muslim leaderships ‘fell for it’. Karadzic also said that non-Serbs couldn’t return to their homes until all the Serbs living outside Republika Srpska returned. According to the prosecutor, this was a very ‘cunning way to prevent their return’.

Lukic replied that he saw nothing wrong in the fact that Karadzic tried ‘in his wisdom’ to introduce the principle of reciprocity in the process of the return of the refugees. According to Lukic, Ostojic’s and Maksimovic’s statements were ‘extremist views’ that were heard but not taken into consideration when decisions were made. In that part of the hearing Lukic repeatedly spoke about the suffering of the Serbs in the World War II. According to Lukic, the steps taken by Karadzic’s leadership were an attempt to prevent it from happening again.

The prosecutor tried to prove that Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic knew about the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serb army soldiers by showing a letter Lukic sent them on 6 April 1993. In the letter Lukic warned Karadzic and Mladic that the soldiers were looting, killing and raping civilians in Grbavica, in Sarajevo. Although Lukic had stated at the time that soldiers perpetrated the crime, today he explained that this was not the full truth. According to him, some crimes were committed by small-time criminals. Some of them had been killed by Serb soldiers in the aftermath of their crimes, and some are on trial now.

Some 10 days before that, Ratko Mladic wrote in his war diary that at a meeting Lukic brought to his attention the problem of profiteering and looting in the Serb part of Sarajevo; Lukic said that ‘even Serb women are raped’. Confronted with the claim that he complained about the situation only because ‘even Serb victims’ were among the victims, the witness replied that the question was ‘an insult’ to him. During the war, Lukic claimed, he helped Muslim civilians to leave the parts of Sarajevo under the Serb control and to find shelter in Belgrade.

After Lukic completed his evidence, the defense called ballistic expert Mile Poparic. He will continue his testimony about the artillery and sniper incidents Karadzic is charged with tomorrow afternoon, after the judgment to the former Herceg Bosna leaders.