Another BH ambassador, Savo Ceklic, has started his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. He follows in the footsteps of Goran Milinic, who has recently denied the genocide in Srebrenica and openly disparaged its victims. Ceklic portrayed the accused as a peacemaker and defended him against all accusations. In the cross-examination, Ceklic had to defend himself

Savo Ceklic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicSavo Ceklic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Savo Ceklic, one of the founders of the Serbian Democratic Party gave a statement to Radovan Karadzic’s defense, blaming the ‘other sides’ for the war atrocities in BH. Ceklic argued that they ‘started it first’. Ceklic also said that Croats and Muslims were responsible for everything because they refused to take into account the Serbs’ interests. Serbs then had to fight back and prevent a reprise of the genocide they had suffered in the World War II. The argument had been used much by the SDS before and during the war and repeated time and again by almost all Karadzic’s witness before the Tribunal in The Hague.

In his statement to the defense team, Ceklic said that Karadzic wanted to achieve a peaceful resolution of the crisis and that he was always against the removal of Muslims and Croats from the territory under the Serb control. Karadzic advocated the ‘coexistence’ of the three ethnic communities, Caklic claimed. In the cross-examination, prosecutor Gustafson reminded the court of the words the accused said in November 1991 as he addressed party associates: that he would not allow ‘either the natural or artificial’ change of demographic structure of the Serb territories. Every ‘foundation laid there by the Muslims will be blown up’. At the suggestion that this didn’t quite sound as an invitation for co-existence, the witness replied that he knew the accused as a peacemaker and as far as he knew, Karadzic never said something like that. Later, in the re-examination the accused noted those were notes taken at the meeting, not proper minutes. The witness accepted the suggestion readily and added that it was not an official document.

In his statement, the witness said that Karadzic’s leadership in Pale had lost contact at the beginning of the war with some municipalities, including Banja Luka. This prompted the prosecutor to put it to him that he was not in a position to know about it because he was not in BH. In early May 1992, the prosecutor noted, the witness left Sarajevo and went to live in Novi Sad. There, Ceklic joined Seselj’s Serbian Radical Party and was elected the city culture secretary, only to be removed from his post in the summer of 1993 after a local newspaper published an article entitled Forger Secretary, claiming that Ceklic had forged his university diploma. After his dismissal, Ceklic returned to Bijeljina where he got a job at the Faculty of Teacher Education.

As the prosecutor noted, a Sarajevo magazine, Slobodna Bosna, wrote about Ceklic’s dabbling in forgery. The article criticized the authorities that approved Ceklic’s appointment as the ambassador to Macedonia. As revealed by Slobodna Bosna, in 1960s, Ceklic was convicted because he had forged his degree from the Faculty of Natural Sciences in Sarajevo. Ceklic did it in a bid to get a job in a secondary school in Loznica. The witness replied that there had been a media campaign against him at the time. In 1979, he obtained a doctor’s degree, the witness said, adding that he wouldn’t have been appointed BH ambassador to Skopje if he had been involved in anything illegal.

Ceklic is the second BH ambassador to testify in Radovan Karadzic’s defense, following in the footsteps of Gordan Milinic, who claimed ‘there’s not a chance’ that a crime had been committed in Srebrenica and who openly disparaged the genocide victims.