In his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense, former Bosnian Serb defense minister Bogdan Subotic claims that the political leadership didn’t wield any control over the ‘stubborn and narrow-minded’ Ratko Mladic and his army. The witness claimed that Karadzic managed to prevent Mladic from capturing Sarajevo but was not able to restrain Mladic in Srebrenica. Srebrenica, nevertheless, is ‘more than 50 percent fraud’, the witness said

Bogdan Subotic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicBogdan Subotic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic continues presenting evidence in support of his case that the political leadership in BH didn’t wield control over the armed forces during the war. Thus, Karadzic maintains, he is not responsible for the crimes the army committed. Today, former defense minister in the Republika Srpska government, Bogdan Subotic tried to corroborate Karadzic’s case. In 1993, Subotic left the post to become Karadzic’s advisor.

In his statement to the defense, Subotic said that Mladic was ‘stubborn, persistent and self-obsessed’. Mladic didn’t allow Karadzic, who was ‘a religious man and a humanist’, as the supreme commander of the armed forces, to interfere in military issues. The witness also noted that the accused never issued a document containing the words ‘to kill, destroy, burn or execute’. This, the witness concluded, meant that Karadzic had nothing to do with the crimes.

In the examination-in-chief, Karadzic allowed the witness to explain the circumstances of his arrest, brief detention and his placement on the list of politicians who were barred from public office, in line with the high representative’s decision. The witness said that he had been unfairly accused of helping Karadzic hide from justice. Subotic contends that at the time ‘the Americans from Washington’ paid him a visit and asked me to tell them where Karadzic was’. After that, ‘a senior advisor to the CIA chief’ came to Subotic’s house with a letter ‘without a letterhead or a signature’ and asked Subotic to take the letter to Karadzic. Subotic told him that he didn’t know where Karadzic was hiding. However, Subotic used this unique opportunity to have the unknown guest hand a letter to the US president, George W. Bush. The letter contained the complaints about the conduct of Bush’s soldiers in BH. Subotic intended to go on with his story but the presiding judge interrupted him. The presiding judge warned Subotic that he ‘has gone too far’.

Since Subotic claimed that the accused didn’t’ control the army, prosecutor Tieger reminded him of his evidence at Momcilo Krajisnik’s trial, when he testified that Mladic could capture Sarajevo but Karadzic prevented him from doing it. The witness failed to realize that this proved that the accused did wield control over the military and he confirmed he had indeed said that. In this case, Karadzic did not do the right thing from a military point of view but his actions were right in terms of their ‘human and humane aspect’, the witness explained. According to the witness, Karadzic knew that if any side won the war, this would not bring a permanent peace to Bosnia.

Similarly, Mladic couldn’t be restrained in the case of Srebrenica. Subotic claimed that the Bosnian Serb leadership ordered the capture of the enclave but not the ‘crimes’ that occurred afterwards. Asked what crimes he had in mind and if he accepted that thousands of Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica had been executed in July 1995, Subotic replied that he didn’t know exactly how many people had been killed or who was responsible for that, whether Mladic was to blame or perhaps ‘Erdemovic’s group’ that had killed those men on its own. The only thing Subotic knew for sure was that Karadzic didn’t have anything to do with the massacre in Srebrenica.

During the war, Subotic worked with another of Karadzic’s former advisor, who is now a BH ambassador, Gordan Milinic. This prompted the prosecutor to ask Subotic if he agreed with what Milinic had said last week: that the cemetery in Potocari was a ‘farce and a fraud’. Subotic replied that he didn’t know if it was a ‘complete fraud’, but it was definitely a fraud ‘more than 50 per cent’. The former Bosnian Serb defense minister continues his evidence tomorrow.