Former BH Army soldier has testified in Radovan Karadzic’s defense, revealing a number of astonishing details. As he told the court, he has been offering to testify about them to the prosecutors in Sarajevo and The Hague for years but they apparently didn’t believe him. The witness is convinced that the Sarajevo authorities and the Association of the Mothers of Srebrenica have prevented him from revealing the truth

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

A BH Army soldier gave evidence in the defense of Radovan Karadzic. This is the first such case. The witness testified with voice distortion and under the pseudonym KW 012 to protect his identity. His evidence was so incoherent and difficult to follow that the Trial Chamber had to intervene several times. What could be gleaned from it is that the witness was there to corroborate the defense allegations that the Pale leadership didn’t know about the crimes in Eastern Bosnia in 1992, that the Muslims units had been attacking Serb villages from the Srebrenica protected zone until 1995 and that the number of victims of the mass executions after the VRS overran Srebrenica was lower than the prosecution alleges.

At the beginning of his evidence, the witness explained how he had never been called upon to testify about the events dealt with by the Tribunal, although he had participated in them. ‘For 20 years I have been saying what they had done to my life and what kind of lies have been accepted here in 20 years, and you have never sought me out. It is not my fault that Sarajevo and the Mothers of Srebrenica have prevented me from standing here before the International Tribunal’, the witness said. Of course, it may well be the case that the prosecutors in Sarajevo and in The Hague have found the witness’s claims less than credible or that they do not want him as a witness because after the war he was convicted for war crimes.

The witness began his testimony with the story from April 1992 when Muslim armed groups attacked some Serb units, and cut off the prisoners’ heads and impaled them in the aftermath of the attack. The Muslims units roasted a captured policeman on a spit. The witness continued mentioning events relevant for Karadzic’s indictment and related to the arrest, torture and killing of local Muslims in Bratunac. The witness and his father were arrested on 10 May 1992 in the village near Bratunac where he lived. The witness was taken to the town football stadium and from there to a school gym. There, the witness was tortured and ‘cut on the body’. He saw ‘with my own eyes’ the killing of 20 prisoners. The witness blamed two paramilitary units, ‘Seselj’s men’ and the White Eagles unit from Serbia, for the crime. Soon afterwards, the witness was transferred from Bratunac to Pale with a large group of prisoners. There the witness was given medical treatment and eventually exchanged. He ended up in Visoko.

After a while, the witness joined the 16th Muslim Eastern Brigade and fought in northeastern Bosnia. The witness went back to his home region, joined the Glogova Independent Battalion, and remained there until the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. As the witness recounted, he and his fellow fighters fled towards Tuzla, fighting the Serb units as they retreated. In answer to Karadzic’s leading questions, which are in fact prohibited in the examination-in-chief, the witness confirmed that at night the Muslims would fight each other in the general confusion, and many were killed in those skirmishes. On his way to Tuzla, the witness saw 1,000 to 2,000 dead Muslims. The witness claimed that he found 100,000 German Marks on a dead fighter and that he used them ‘as rolling paper’. This claim could provide an explanation why the prosecutors in The Hague and in Sarajevo never wanted to call him as a prosecution witness.

The witness soon digressed. It turned out that after only two days, at the beginning of the march towards Tuzla, the witness was captured and taken to the warehouse in Kravica. This called into question the witness’s earlier claim that he had seen a large number of bodies as he fled towards Tuzla. As the witness recounted, as soon as the shooting started, he ‘cleared out’ by leaping through a window. According to him, there could not have been 1,000 or 1,500 victims in Kravica because he estimates there were between 100 to 150 people there.

After his escape, the witness hid in the woods for ten months until he was arrested. He was tried for the murder of four Serbs and a Muslim who saw him kill the Serbs, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. At the end of his rather dramatic testimony, Karadzic’s witness said that he was soon ‘exchanged’ for a Serb officer, although the war was long over by that time.

Tomorrow morning Karadzic will ask the witness just a few more questions, and then prosecutor Pack will cross-examine KW-012; this promises to be interesting.