In his previous statement to the OTP investigators former president of the Autonomous Region Krajina Assembly Vojislav Kupresanin said that he never could understand why Karadzic and his associates didn’t cut Radislav Brdjanin ‘down to size’. Brdjanin was the radical chief of the Crisis Staff in Krajina. Today, in a bid to defend the accused, Kupresanin said that Karadzic ‘openly’ told Brdjanin his actions were ‘idiotic’

Vojislav Kupresanin, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialVojislav Kupresanin, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

At the trial of Radovan Karadzic, Judge Kwon’s Trial Chamber could see the three faces of defense witness Vojislav Kupresanin. One face was the one he showed in 2001, when he gave a statement to the OTP investigators. The second, completely different face was the one he revealed in a recent statement to the defense team. Today, he showed his third face, somewhere between the other two, in his evidence in court. During the war in BH, Kupresanin was the president of the Autonomous Region of Krajina Assembly. The ARK comprised 17 municipalities in which many crimes against non-Serbs were committed in the war. It is indeed quite strange that Kupresanin had not appeared in a courtroom in The Hague before.

At the beginning of the hearing, Karadzic read out the summary of the witness’s statement to the defense. In the statement, Kupresanin exonerates the Pale leadership for the events in Krajina, saying that the ARK bodies had acted independently. The municipal crisis staffs in particular (Kupresanin called them ‘states within the state”) were not under the control of the central authorities. Kupresanin shifted the blame from the civilian to the military leadership, arguing that Karadzic didn’t have any control over Ratko Mladic. The relationship between Karadzic and Mladic was ‘always tense’, Kupresanin explained.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Tieger noted that in his interview with the OTP investigators in 2001, Kupresanin stated that the president of the ARK Crisis Staff Radislav Brdjanin pulled the strings in Krajina during the war and that he was controlled by the Pale leadership. For instance, Kupresanin said that Brdjanin was one of the ‘most radical people’ who wanted to solve all the problems by fighting a war in which Serbs would be victorious and two other ethnic groups would lose. Kupresanin claimed then that he couldn’t understand why the Republika Srpska president or his associates didn’t cut Brdjanin ‘down to size’ instead of tolerating his behavior.

Today Kupresanin explained that Brdjanin wanted to be popular and this led him to make excessive statements, such as telling the Muslims ‘not to put the cabbage in the pickling vats’ because they would not be there to eat it in their homes. In an attempt to help the accused, Kupresanin said that the accused and Brdjanin were ‘eternally in conflict’. Karadzic often told Brdjanin off, not mincing his words, telling Brdjanin his actions were ‘idiotic’ and that he had in effect scored ‘own goals’.

In his previous statements, the witness first blamed Brdjanin, and hence indirectly Karadzic, then he shifted the blame on the army, and always did everything he could to defend himself. The prosecutor noted that Kupresanin’s role had indeed been very important. In the summer of 1992, the witness visited Omarska on Karadzic’s orders, the prosecutor recounted, where he ordered Omarska to be closed down after the world public learned about the Prijedor prison camps. The prosecutor alleged that the witness knew about the crimes against non-Serbs in Krajina, such as the murder of 68 civilians in the village of Brisevo and the organized expulsion on non-Serbs. In his responses, Kupresanin’s first priority was to play down his own role, and then to play down Karadzic’s role. Kupresanin said he didn’t inform anyone about the crimes because he thought the army should have done it. Similarly, Kupresanin blamed the army for the Prijedor prison camps. According to Kupresanin, in the summer of 1992 Karadzic told him, ‘The fools who refuse to listen to me are doing this’.

Kupresanin clarified a statement he made in the Assembly in 1994, that ‘Bosnia is a Serb country and there couldn’t be three masters in it’. Just like his namesake Seselj, Kupresanin said that he considered the members of all three ethnic communities to be Serbs. There are Orthodox Serbs, Serbs of the Mohammedan faith and Serb Catholics, Kupresanin explained, and ‘based on this logic’, Bosnia is ‘a Serb land’.