Former RS defense minister Bogdan Subotic claims that during the war, Karadzic and Mladic were at loggerheads and could not have been members of the same joint criminal enterprise. The enterprise in itself is in Subotic’s view a ‘fabrication’. After Subotic completed his evidence, Karadzic called intelligence officer Petar Salapura, who is expected to say whether the supreme commander knew ‘what everybody else knew’ about the mass executions of Srebrenica inhabitants in July 1995

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

On the last working day of this week, Karadzic’s former military advisor and war-time defense minister Bogdan Subotic completed his evidence at the trial of his erstwhile boss. In the re-examination by the accused, Subotic insisted once again on the purported lack of power of the Bosnian Serb political leadership as opposed to the military command. Subotic did that in a bid to exonerate the former president from the responsibility for the crimes he is tried for.

According to the witness, the Main Staff commander Ratko Mladic behaved ‘as if he were the smartest man in the world’. After the Srebrenica operation, he gathered around him a group of officers and started making plans for a coup. Unlike Karadzic, Mladic had the support of Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic. Subotic denied the allegation in the indictment that the Serb leaders formed a joint criminal enterprise to commit crimes in BH: this was impossible, he said, because they were at loggerheads. In Subotic’s view, the term ‘joint criminal enterprise’ is a ‘fabrication’ that had never before been applied to warfare. Subotic added that he had asked ‘intelligent people’ to explain to him what it was, but nobody could.

The witness once against stressed that in March 1995, Karadzic was tricked into signing Directive 7. The directive ordered the attacks on Srebrenica and Zepa with the goal of creating ‘total insecurity with no hope of further life’ for the civilian population. Subotic is convinced his version of the events is true because this quote was not contained in the Drina Corps order, which was based on the directive. Also, the witness remained adamant that Karadzic and the leadership in Pale weren’t informed about the executions of the Srebrenica men and boys in the summer of 1995.

In a continued bid to prove that he had ‘not been informed’ about the Srebrenica massacre, the accused called his next witness, Petar Salapura. At the time Salapura was the intelligence service chief in the VRS Main Staff. Earlier this week in his evidence as a prosecution witness at Ratko Mladic’s trial, Salapura said that ‘everyone knew’ about the executions of Muslims after the Srebrenica operation. Hence, he didn’t think there was any need to mention it in his intelligence reports. Mladic’s defense tried to prove that their client didn’t know what ‘everyone else knew’. Karadzic now tried to do the same thing by insisting his contacts with Salapura during the war were few and far between.

In his statement to the defense, the witness said he had met with Karadzic just three times during the war and that they had never spoken over the phone. This prompted prosecutor Edgerton to show a logbook with the record of the meetings and phone conversations of the accused. The document showed that Karadzic met with Salapura more than three times and that they indeed had contacted each other over the phone. The witness explained that he had met ‘directly’ with Karadzic three times; other meetings were ‘group meetings’. Salapura agreed that their phone conversations were recorded in the logbook, but he didn’t know if they had actually been ‘carried out’.

Petar Salapura’s cross-examination will continue on Monday: the prosecution will further examine the contacts between the accused and the witness and what, if anything, they discussed. Particular focus will be on the kind of information about the war crimes Karadzic received.