The first day of Momcilo Krajisnik’s evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense ended up with the two drawing ethnic boundaries in BH on a map. The goal was to convince the Trial Chamber that the Bosnian Serb leadership’s war-time policy focused on implementing the pre-war peace plans. This, the defense argued, was later confirmed by the Dayton agreement

Momcilo Krajisnik, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialMomcilo Krajisnik, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Introducing himself as a pre-war businessman and the speaker of the BH Assembly, the war-time speaker of the Bosnian Serb parliament and a member of the BH Presidency after the war, Momcilo Krajisnik began his evidence in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. At the beginning of his evidence, Krajisnik said that he had been arrested in 2000 and brought to The Hague where he was finally sentenced to 20 years for the war crimes against non-Serbs in BH. This September, the Tribunal’s President Meron ordered Krajisnik to be granted early release after he had served two thirds of his sentence.

‘Now I am a free man, I am collecting evidence for a review of the judgment and I live for the day when I will hear the two magic words, ‘not guilty’, and see two of the best Tribunal’s prosecutors – Tieger and Kremer – raise a white flag’, Krajisnik concluded.

The witness recounted how he met Karadzic many years before the war. Karadzic had asked some of his friends to put him in touch with Krajisnik, an economist, because he needed advice on starting a private business. Later both of them ended up before the court on fraud charges. The witness presented it today as political persecution by the communist regime.

The gist of today’s Krajisnik’s evidence didn’t differ much from his defense at his own trial. According to Krajisnik, those who led BH to independence were responsible for the war: the Democratic Action Party and the Croatian Democratic Union. On the other hand, in Krajisnik’s view, the Serb leadership acted in line with the Constitution and the law to protect the Serb ethnic community in BH.

For Krajisnik’s testimony to help Karadzic, the Trial Chamber should accept that the communities of Serb municipalities, which later became Serb autonomous regions, were established for economic reasons and not to define the territory which was to be ethnically cleansed in the war. Krajisnik should also convince the Trial Chamber that the Serb crisis staffs were established simply in response to a crisis, as is the usual procedure when there are natural disasters. In several of its judgments, the Tribunal pinpointed the crisis staffs as the key agents of the crime campaigns in municipalities.

The two war-time companions spent a good portion of hearing drawing up maps, dividing Bosnia and Herzegovina and each of its ethnically mixed municipalities into their Serb, Muslim and Croat parts, in a bid to convince the judges that during the war the Bosnian Serb leadership only wanted to implement a division based on ethnic grounds, which had purportedly been envisaged in the pre-war peace plans such as the Lisbon agreement. The fact that the Dayton agreement gave a stamp of approval of their policies showed that Karadzic and Krajisnik had been right, they claimed. This has been a stumbling block for the three ethnic communities until this day.

Even when presiding Judge Kwon said he thought Karadzic was not charged with changing municipal borders, the two nevertheless continued marking the ethnic boundaries on the map. Krajisnik was convicted and Karadzic is on trial for the crimes against Muslims and Croats in the municipalities Serbs claimed as theirs. The crimes were committed in a bid to ethnically cleanse those territories.

Momcilo Krajisnik’s examination-in-chief continues on Tuesday. This is the second time that Krajisnik has appeared as a witness before the Tribunal: he has testified in his own defense before.