In his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense, Professor Nenad Kecmanovic revised his previous expert findings on ‘random’ shelling of Sarajevo from the Serb positions. Now, Kecmanovic called those views ‘just impressions’. He had used the term ‘destruction’ of the city center: now he spoke about ‘damage’. A recording of an intercepted conversation in which Mladic calls Kecmanovic ‘a monkey’ was played in court

Nenad Kecmanovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialNenad Kecmanovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Thursday, Nenad Kecmanovic, former BH politician, revised his previous opinions and positions about the crimes in Prijedor. As he continued his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense, Kecmanovic did the same, this time with regard to the war in Sarajevo. Kecmanovic was in Sarajevo until 6 July 1992 when, as a member of the BH Presidency, he went to Pale to negotiate with the Serb side. Kecmanovic never returned. From Pale he travelled to Belgrade where he got a teaching job. Now, Kecmanovic is a ‘senator’ in Republika Srpska.

In the expert report he had written for the defense in the Kvocka et al. case, which revolved around the crimes in Prijedor, Kecmanovic stated that the ‘superior Serb artillery caused a great deal of destruction in central Sarajevo and in the old town’. Now Kecmanovic backtracked, saying it ‘wasn’t exactly destruction’, but that ‘damage’ had been caused in the central part of the city. The buildings were not destroyed as they were in other parts of Sarajevo, such as in Grbavica which was split in two by the two warring sides. In the same expert report the witness noted that he ‘got the impression’ that ‘random’ fire was opened on Sarajevo from the Serb positions. Kecmanovic didn’t deny that today, but stressed that it was ‘just an impression’.

In his statement to Mladic’s defense team the witness mentioned Radovan Karadzic’s speech at a BH Assembly session. However, he made no mention of ‘the shocking statement’ made by the Bosnian Serb leader that the war could drag ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina to hell and Muslims into possible disappearance". Kecmanovic had also included this quote in his earlier expert report. Kecmanovic corrected this claim, saying that it was a ‘warning’. This prompted prosecutor Traldi to read once again the excerpt from the previous report. Kecmanovic then offered a compromise version, saying that Karadzic had made a ‘shocking warning’.

Kecmanovic strove to corroborate Mladic’s defense case, which was also presented by other indicted Republika Srpska officials: Cutilheiro’s plan for the internal division of BH, drawn up before the war, was rejected because the Muslim side pulled out of the agreement, which had been accepted by the Bosnian Serb leadership. The prosecutor put it to Kecmanovic that Serbs accepted the plan as a ‘basis for their later separation and to increase the size of the Serb entity in BH’. Karadzic said that Cutilheiro’s maps were ‘completely unacceptable’ for Serbs but were adopted because they made it possible to ‘increase the area Serbs would claim as their right to 45 and 50 percent’. Prosecutor Traldi went on to show Kecmanovic’s statement to a Belgrade newspaper, Borba, in August 1995. When he spoke to the reporter, Kecmanovic claimed the Serbs had the right to 70 percent of the territory, because of their military domination. The witness replied that he never commented on specific statements but only on the general view of Cutilheiro’s plan. Kecmanovic didn’t refute the allegations he made in his interview to Borba.

At the end of the cross-examination, the prosecutor played in court an intercepted conversation between Mladic and Karadzic. Mladic referred to Kecmanovic as ‘this monkey of ours who was with Alija’, saying that on his departure from Sarajevo he ‘was granted asylum in Belgrade’. The witness said he didn’t know anything about asylum, and didn’t make any other comments.

Nenad Kecmanovic’s cross-examination was completed. Kecmanovic’s re-examination is not over yet because Kecmanovic must go home over the weekend for private reasons. He will probably return to The Hague in late August 2014 to complete his testimony.