Radovan Karadzic’s defense case continued with the examination of three men from Banja Luka: Novak Kondic, Andjelko Grahovac and Nikola Erceg. Karadzic tried to prove that in the first months of the war the ARK was isolated from Pale in order to distance himself from the crimes committed at that time against the non-Serbs in Bosnian Krajina

Andjelko Grahovac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialAndjelko Grahovac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Former member of the Banja Luka Crisis Staff Novak Kondic said in his statement to the defense that the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK) operated as a ‘separate state’. There were ‘no grounds’ for the accusations that the goal of the SDS was ‘a permanent elimination of Bosnian Croats and Muslims from the territories claimed by the serbs through genocide, persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and inhumane acts’, Kondic argued. According to Kondic, the crisis staffs were established to ‘normalize life’.

Former member of the ARK Crisis Staff Andjelko Grahovac stated that he never received instructions to persecute the population and ethnically cleanse the area. Karadzic and Krajisnik ‘never promoted hatred towards other ethnicities’, Grahovac claimed. Grahovac also claimed that on his visit to the Manjaca prison camp he personally saw that the ‘prisoners were safe and that all rules were observed there’.

Replying to prosecutor Edgerton, Grahovac confirmed the claims from the statement he gave to the OTP investigators 10 years ago. Grahovac had told the investigators that hundreds of non-Serb businesses had been ‘blown up’ and that thousands of Muslims and Croats were forced to leave their residences. According to Grahovac, crisis staffs ‘actively tolerated’ those crimes. Today Grahovac strove to tone down those allegations, saying that the crimes hadn’t been ordered ‘from the top’ but that there was an ‘epidemic among the citizens’.

According to the witness, Karadzic and Krajisnik ‘never spoke about the percentages and about the expulsion of other ethnic groups’. As for the statements made by Radoslav Brdjanin, president of the ARK Crisis Staff, about the minimum percentage of Muslims who would be allowed to stay in Banja Luka, Grahovac tried to justify them by claiming they were part of Brdjanin’s ‘mindset’. Brdjanin wanted to prove to the Serb leaders he was the ‘best and the biggest Serb’, the witness noted. The Tribunal in The Hague sentenced Brdjanin to 30 years in prison for the persecution and other crimes against non-Serbs in Bosnian Krajina.

Prosecutor Edgerton confronted Grahovac with Zdravko Tolimir’s report on the looting and other crimes committed by ‘the Wolves of Vucjak’, an eliteVRS unit. She played a video recording in which Krajisnik says that ‘any army in the world would be proud’ of that unit. In Krajisnik’s words, members of the unit were ‘history’s favorites’. Grahovac admitted that non-Serb properties were looted, but blamed the incidents on individuals.

Karadzic’s third witness Nikola Erceg said in his statement to the defense that the ARK Crisis Staff didn’t have any authority over the police and the army. Erceg admitted that prison camps in Omarska and Keraterm were discussed at the Crisis Staff meetings but ‘only in terms of providing logistic support’. The ARK policy ‘did not comprise violence or persecution of non-Serbs’, Erceg claimed. In his statement, Erceg also said that the ARK was created because it had been impossible to communicate with Pale.

At the beginning of Erceg’s cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Tieger took the opportunity to note that the ARK was formed months before the conflict started and the communications with the Pale leadership purportedly broke down. The cross-examination continues tomorrow morning.

Andjelko Grahovac, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial
Novak Kondic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial
Nikola Erceg, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial