Karadzic called Drasko Vujic as his defense witness. Vujic’s unit was in charge of securing the village of Puharska near Prijedor. He claimed that although the soldiers patrolled the area he never noticed that the local mosque and the Catholic church had been blown up. He did admit that blowing up those religious building necessitated a lot of explosives and extensive preparations

Draško Vujic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialDraško Vujic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

After Ratko Mladic refused to give evidence in the defense of his wartime president Radovan Karadzic, former VRS soldier Drasko Vujic was all too willing to take the place of the former Main Staff commander in the witness stand. During the war, Vujic was the commander of a unit, which had 900 to 1,200 soldiers, all of them from Urije, a part of Prijedor. The unit was part of the JNA 343rd Brigade, which later became the 43rd Brigade of the VRS. In 1992, the witness and his unit were in Prijedor, but they were later sent to other battlefields.

In his statement to the defense, Vujic said that on 30 May 1992 the Muslim forces attacked Prijedor. The SDS had seized power in the town one month earlier. Vujic’s group fought to defend Prijedor. So far in his trial, Karadzic has tried to paint the attack as comprehensive and well-organized. Today the witness said that the Serb forces were able to fight off the Muslims in just an hour. One Serb soldier was killed in the operation.

After that, Vujic maintained, the 43rd Brigade didn’t take part in the fighting in the Prijedor municipality. In the cross-examination, the prosecutor reminded Vujic that the brigade was involved in the attack on the village of Hambarine on 22 May 1995. According to the prosecution’s evidence, practically no resistance was offered in the village, which was nevertheless razed to the ground. Some of the villagers were killed, others were expelled or taken to prison camps. A bulletin produced by Vujic’s brigade says that the unit took part in ‘punitive action against Hambarine’. Mladic commended the unit for their effort, and Karadzic decorated the unit with the Order of the Nemanjic Dynasty. The witness said that the goal was not to punish the population but those who had attacked the Serb soldiers.

Although the 43rd Brigade was extremely effective in combat, it failed to do its job during the ceasefire. In his statement to the defense, Vujic explained that his unit was in charge of maintaining peace and patrolling in the area of the village of Puharska. While they stayed there, in the summer of 1992, the local mosque was blown up, and the Catholic church was demolished in an explosion soon afterwards. The witness agreed with the suggestion that it took a lot of explosives and preparation to blow up those buildings, but he maintained that his patrols didn’t see anything suspicious.

Vujic and his unit didn’t see Djordje Dosen Djole take his neighbor from Puharska, Fadil Dizdarevic, and kill him just because Dizdarevic had tried to fix the house belonging to the local Muslim cleric. The house had been damaged in the explosion that had destroyed the mosque. Vujic, who met Dosen while he served in the 343rd Brigade, tried to distance himself from the incident. As Vujic explained, Dosen was in fact the leader of a paramilitary group. When he was shown evidence that the unit had been under the brigade’s command, Vujic claimed that all its members were his subordinates except for Djole.

At the end of the hearing, Karadzic called a protected witness who testifies under the pseudonym KW 609. He spoke about the events in the Omarska prison camp in Prijedor.