Ratko Mladic’s trial continued with the cross-examination of Branko Radan, former president of the Executive Board in the Serb municipality of Novo Sarajevo. The prosecution focused on the discrepancies between the documents and the witness’s description of the situation facing the non-Serbs in his municipality. The judges also noticed this discrepancy

Branko Radan, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialBranko Radan, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In the cross-examination of Branko Radan, former president of the Executive Board in the Serb municipality of Novo Sarajevo, the prosecutor brought up documents and other evidence that contradicted the witness’s claim that the ‘Serbs had not been preparing for the war’. According to one of the documents shown in court, in 1991 the JNA had been very busy training and arming the SDS members. By 11 May 1992, 69,000 Serbs were armed, Ratko Mladic noted in his war diary.

Prosecutor Camille Bibles confronted the witness with a report from the command of the JNA 4th Military District, dated 20 March 1992. The report emphasized that the ‘leadership of the Serb nation and all the Serbs are ready for the war’. Prosecutor Bibles noted that the Serb crisis staffs were already in place in 1991. Asked if it was possible that the Serbs had in fact been preparing for the war but that he had not been aware of it, Radan agreed. If he had known about the efforts, he would have joined in, the witness added.

The prosecutor put it to the witness that the position of Muslims and Croats in the part of the municipality under Serb control was not as idyllic as the witness described it in his statement. The judges asked Radan to identify the nine men, headed by Veselin Vlahovic Batko, who had been terrorizing the non-Serbs in Grbavica. The witness could only remember two of them; he knew only their nicknames Cepter and Krompir. The prosecutor suggested to the witness that the Serb leadership knew about the crimes committed by the group but failed to do anything about it. Radan agreed that any action against that group ‘wasn’t desired’.

The prosecutor also claims the witness provided an inaccurate account of the reasons and circumstances of the non-Serbs’ departure from the area under Serb control on 30 September 1992. At the session of the Serb Assembly of 14 September 1992, Mladic quoted Dr. Mitar Miljanovic from Pale in his diary. Miljanovic said there were 60 per cent of Muslims in Grbavica and that the ‘principle of retorsion’ should be applied to them. Radan was adamant that the two sides had reached a ‘neighborly agreement’, prompting the prosecutor to show him a report filed by the SRNA news agency on 1 October 1992. The report quoted municipal officials, saying that some groups, acting ‘independently’ expelled non-Serbs.

The judges didn’t fail to notice the inconsistency between Radan’s ‘almost idyllic depiction’ of the non-Serbs’ life in Grbavica and the evidence called in court. The judges asked the witness to explain the discrepancy. According to Radan, the fact that there was a war going on made everyone feel uneasy. He was adamant that Muslims left Grbavica on 30 September 1992 as part of a ‘neighborly agreement’, not because they were expelled.

After Branko Radan completed his evidence, the defense called Nikola Mijatovic, former chief of staff of the Ilidza Brigade in the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps.