Slobodan Jurisic claimed at the trial of Radovan Karadzic that Kljuc was a role model for the entire region because of the efforts of the Serb authorities there to protect people of all nationalities. Kljuc is one of seven municipalities where, the indictment alleges, genocide was committed during the war

Slobodan Jurisic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialSlobodan Jurisic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Slobodan Jurisic, former member of the Crisis Staff in Kljuc, gave evidence at the trial of former Republika Srpska president. According to the summary of Jurisic’s statement read out by Karadzic, Jurisic ‘never heard that any representative of the Serb authorities planned, ordered or instigated the expulsion of the non-Serbs from Kljuc municipality’. According to Jurisic, individuals and groups that were not controlled by the Serb authorities were responsible for all the crimes against non-Serb civilians.

Prosecutor Carolyn Edgerton noted in the cross-examination Jurisic was currently under investigation in BH for his involvement in the murder of non-Serbs in Velagici, Pudin Han and Prhovo, the detention of at least 1,300 civilians in the Manjaca prison camp and the expulsion of about 16,500 persons from Kljuc municipality. The prosecutor put it to Jurisic that he and other members of the Crisis Staff knew very well about the crimes against the non-Serbs but failed to do anything to prevent them and punish perpetrators.

As Jurisic argued, it was insisted at the Crisis Staff meeting that the police should protect Muslims and Croats. There were even ‘serious efforts’ to prevent the crimes but there were too many ‘rogue individuals’ who couldn’t be placed under control. After the crime in Velagici, the authorities arrested the perpetrators and transferred them to the military remand prison in Banja Luka, the witness recounted. The prosecutor then brought up documents showing that the municipal authorities in Kljuc made sure the charges against these persons were dropped.

Jurisic’s allegation that the non-Serb population from Kljuc left ‘voluntarily’ prompted the prosecutor to present a decision produced by the War Presidency in July 1992. Only those who stated they would leave the municipality for good were allowed to go. Also, the decision stipulated that the municipality would seize all the property not deeded over to the municipality or not exchanged within three months of the departure.Jurisic, who was a member of the War Presidency, initially confirmed that he had taken part in the issuance of permits to leave the municipality, but then changed his tune, claiming that he had not taken any part in the process of passing or implementing of that decision.

In Karadzic’s re-examination, Jurisic repeated what he had said in the statement: the crimes were duly recorded and investigated, and Kljuc set an example to the entire region. Asked if there were any crimes that the authorities tried to cover up, the witness replied that the general approach was to investigate all unlawful activities. The witness remembered an appeal launched by Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka, to protect a Catholic church. The authorities failed to do it because there were too many ‘unrestrained individuals’ and the church was ‘easy to set on fire’, the witness admitted.