A protected defense witness testified at Karadzic’s trial and accused paramilitary groups for the crimes in Keraterm and Omarska. When the witness was shown evidence that the Banja Luka special police were involved in the unlawful treatment of prisoners, the witness said the problems occurred when ‘conscienceless individuals’ would mingle with the police from time to time. It was hard to establish who the culprits were, the witness explained

Radovan Karadzic in the courtroomRadovan Karadzic in the courtroom

Radovan Karadzic called a former employee of the Bosnian Serb State Security Service, who testified under protective measures. Through his evidence, Karadzic again contests the prosecution’s allegation that the crimes against Muslims and Croats in BH were committed systematically and that they followed the same pattern. According to Karadzic, those were isolated incidents orchestrated by renegade groups and individuals. The witness testified with image and voice distortion and under the pseudonym KW 426. In his written statement to the defense team the witness spoke about the situation in Prijedor and other parts of Bosnian Krajina.

In the summary of the statement, the witness said that a special police unit was formed in April 1992. In July 1992 the unit was disbanded because of lack of discipline. When the unit was re-established, only the ‘verified’ personnel who had gone through requisite training were given a job. The witness claimed that in 1992 the police established a commission to investigate ‘irregularities’ in the ‘investigation centers’ in Keraterm and Omarska in Prijedor. The conclusion was that ‘paramilitary groups’ were responsible for the crimes against non-Serb prisoners, and the police ‘could do nothing to prevent them’. In a brief examination-in-chief, the witness also spoke about the arming of Muslims on the one side, and the commitment of the Serb authorities to preserve multi-ethnic police on the other.

The ‘irregularities’ the witness spoke about were in fact the gravest crimes against the non-Serbs detained in the Keraterm and Omarska prison camps, prosecutor Gustafson noted. As alleged in the indictment, the MUP personnel were responsible for most of those crimes. The prosecutor presented a document produced by the Prijedor police in which Simo Drljaca, the Prijedor police chief, accused the Banja Luka special units headed by a man by the name of Strazivuk of unlawful treatment of the detainees in Omarska. Also, the prosecutor reminded the witness that in his statement he has blamed the paramilitary groups but that Drljaca said the special units’ conduct was problematic ‘even by Omarska standards’. The witness responded that problems occurred when ‘conscienceless individuals’ mingled from time to time with the police and it was hard to tell who the culprits were.

Drljaca’s document was sent to the Security Services Center in Banja Luka, but, there was no response, no disciplinary or criminal proceedings against the perpetrators, the prosecutor emphasized. The witness tried to explain it by saying that the Banja Luka Center had always been in conflict with its subordinated police stations in Bosnian Krajina, including the one in Prijedor. Local police chiefs wanted to be ‘sultans’ ruling their ‘sultanates’, the witness explained. Asked to give some examples of that conflict, the witness mentioned the quarrel between Banja Luka and Prijedor about a stolen Audi car.

At the end of the hearing, there was a discussion about the defense’s motion to tender into evidence the statement Ratko Mladic tried to read out in the courtroom last week when he testified in Karadzic’s defense and was not allowed to. Mladic’s statement and the defense motion were today first distributed to the media, only to be placed under seal soon afterwards. The decision on the admission into evidence of Mladic’s statement will be made later. The defense also indicated it would file an appeal against the Trial Chamber’s decision not to force Ratko Mladic to reply to the questions the accused had asked him in the testimony. Radovan Karadzic’s trial continues next week.