According to Luka Dragicevic, former assistant commander for morale, religion and legal affairs in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, Serbs are ‘genetically stronger, better, handsomer and smarter’ than converts to Islam, i.e. Muslims. Dragicevic doesn’t think such views make him a racist. On the contrary, they are ‘facts I have learned from my life experience’, Dragicevic explained

Luka Dragicevic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialLuka Dragicevic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Colonel Luka Dragicevic, former assistant commander for morale, religion and legal affairs in the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, completed his evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic today. As the cross-examination continued, the prosecutor described how Dragicevic ‘boosted the morale’ of Serb soldiers in the Sarajevo theatre of war.

‘We are genetically stronger, better, handsomer and smarter’, wrote Dragicevic in the SRK command guidelines. ‘Remember how many Muslims there were among the ten best pupils, students, soldiers? Precious few. Why? Because they are poturice [converts to Islam] and only the weakest among the Serbs became poturice’. The prosecutor then asked the witness if he agreed that it was ‘offensive language’. ‘No, basically all of that is true’, retorted Dragicevic. The witness added that he still stood by words he had written then.

Dragicevic rejected the suggestion of prosecutor Adam Weber that he was a racist but didn’t renounce his theory about Serbs being ‘genetically stronger, better, handsomer, and smarter’ as a nation than Muslims. Asked if he really believed that Serbs were ‘genetically handsomer than the people of Muslim faith’, Dragicevic replied ‘Well, of course. If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t have written it’. That was based on ‘my life experience’, Dragicevic noted.

In his guidelines for the boosting of the morale of the SRK officers and soldiers Dragicevic wrote other things about poturice. ‘A sharp, well-conceived hit on the nose is all it would take for them to change their religion again’, Dragicevic wrote. His motive was to ‘encourage’ his subordinates to fight against the BH Army successfully, he explained. He also bragged about knowing how to do it, as evidenced by his victories as the commander in the Visegrad battlefield.

The prosecutor quoted from an order issued by General Stanislav Galic on 1 April 1994. In the order, Galic orders his troops to fortify their positions around Sarajevo by erecting wire and concrete fences to enhance the feeling that they are indeed under a blockade’, or ‘in a prison camp’. The order pertains to Operation Zvezda in which two VRS corps, from Drina and Herzegovina, were brought in to reinforce the SRK. The Visegrad tactical group also took part in the operation under Dragicevic’s command.

Dragicevic said that there were quotation marks around the word ‘prison camp’; this means that Sarajevo was not really a prison camp. ‘That is what it means in our punctuation’, Dragicevic explained. Also, the witness said that Galic’s order didn’t refer to Sarajevo and the civilians but to the BH Army’s 1st Corps. This prompted Judge Moloto to ask him how it was possible to surround the enemy army without surrounding the civilians. Dragicevic replied that the BH Army used the people as a shield and was therefore responsible for the suffering of the civilian population in Sarajevo. The Serb army was not to blame. Judge Moloto noted that the witness had not replied his question.

Prosecutor Weber also noted that Milan Lukic and his Avengers, held responsible for the kidnapping and disappearance of Muslims in Sjeverin and Strpci, were under the command of Dragicevic’s Visegrad Brigade. According to one of the documents, Dragicevic issued a certificate confirming that Lukic had proven his worth as a fighter in the Visegrad Brigade. Lukic was set free by the Court in Uzice based on the certificate. Dragicevic denied the claim. According to him, the document was a forgery. Milan Lukic’s relatives asked him to give them a certificate, Dragicevic explained, but he refused to do it. As a result, Dragicevic received death threats.

Ratko Mladic’s trial continues tomorrow morning.