Former Republika Srpska prime minister Vladimir Lukic agrees that during the war Serbs committed some crimes, but he insists that there was a lot of propaganda in this regard: the purpose was to cause the world to ‘pity the Muslims’. One of Mladic’s wartime bodyguards begins his evidence

Vladimir Lukic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialVladimir Lukic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

As the cross-examination of former Republika Srpska prime minister Vladimir Lukic drew to a close, the prosecutor put it to him that the war-time policy implemented by the Bosnian Serb leadership enormously increased the percentage of Serbs in some municipalities. The prosecutor presented the results of the 1993 census that show the Serb population in Prijedor growing from the pre-war 42 per cent to 96 per cent. Lukic didn’t deny the figures, but explained that members of all ethnic communities in BH fled from the territories under the control of the other ethnic groups because they were afraid.

The prosecutor brought up the witness’s statement from October 1994: Lukic forecast that after the war the percentage of non-Serbs in Republika Srpska would not exceed 10 to 15 per cent. Today Lukic explained that he did not wish that to happen: it was merely his assessment based on the view that many citizens would never return to their homes because they ‘found better living conditions’ elsewhere.

In the re-examination, the witness was asked questions by Ratko Mladic’s defense. Lukic tried to explain why he had warned the accused and his Main Staff during the war about the looting, rapes and murders. At the time, he had told Mladic that the crimes were committed by the army personnel. Today Lukic said that at the beginning of the war in BH there was an ‘influx of people of questionable morals’ from other republics: they were responsible for the crimes. Asked if anyone had ever asked him to cover up the crimes, Lukic replied ‘God forbid!’. Asked to describe Mladic’s response to his reports, Lukic said that the army tried to impose order.

Defense counsel Branko Lukic put it to Vladimir Lukic that during the war, there were reports about 50,000 to 60,000 Muslim women who had been raped and 200,000 to 300,000 Muslim men who had been killed. The witness replied that it was war propaganda whose aim was to cause the world to ‘pity the Muslims and to condemn the bad Serbs’.

At the very end of Lukic’s evidence, the presiding judge asked him if he was willing to agree that the Serb police and army had committed crimes in BH during the war or if it was his position that all the reports about the mass murders such as the execution of about 200 persons at Koricanske Stijene just an exaggeration or propaganda. The witness agreed that the Koricanske Stijene incident did occur. However, Vladimir Lukic noted that all sides committed crimes but only the crimes of the ‘Serb side were presented to the public’.

Djordje Marjanovic, Mladic’s wartime bodyguard, was called after Lukic completed his evidence. In his statement to the defense, Marjanovic praised his former boss, stating that he always had a ‘positive attitude towards civilians and prisoners’. Marjanovic also claimed that during the Srebrenica operation in July 1995 he took a 10-day vacation. According to Marjanovic, this proves that the operation wasn’t planned. Had it been planned, he would not have been granted leave. In a brief cross-examination the prosecutor showed a video from late July 1995, showing the witness standing behind Ratko Mladic as he was seeing off the refugees from Zepa with the words, ‘I have forgiven all of you, and I have spared your lives, but don’t let me see you again at the front lines. Next time there will be no mercy’.

In his testimony, Marjanovic said that during the war there was an attempt on Ratko Mladic’s life. Sniper fire was opened from a position held by the French Battalion of UNPROFOR. As Marjanovic recounted, one of the soldier in the escort was killed then, and another was wounded. The latter was Mladic’s relative Mladjo Kenjic. The defense has indicated that Kenjic will testify at the Tribunal.

Mladic’s trial continues next Tuesday.