There were many discrepancies between Bosko Mandic’s written statement and his evidence in court at the trials of Karadzic and Mladic. Mandic was thus forced to ‘think about’ his statements and decide which ones were true. The only explanation the witness could offer 'off the top of my head' was that he thought there was no need to speak about 'things which were general knowledge, such as the crimes against non-Serbs’. The ‘Tribunal already has information about that’, Mandic noted

Bosko Mandic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialBosko Mandic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

The trial of Ratko Mladic, former VRS Main Staff commander, continued today with the evidence of Bosko Mandic, former vice-president of the Executive Board and a member of Crisis Staff in Prijedor.

When Mandic confirmed that his written statement to the defense was true, defense counsel Branko Lukic read out the summary. The witness described the ‘peaceful takeover’ of Prijedor, the attacks of Muslim forces on Serbs and the JNA, and the influx of Serb refugees from war-torn areas. Mandic also argued that the Serb authorities assisted the voluntary evacuation of those who were not involved in the fighting. The others, according to the witness, were taken to Omarska.

In the cross-examination, the prosecutor highlighted numerous inconsistencies between Mandic’s written statement and his evidence in court, and also some discrepancies between Mandic’s testimony in January 2014 at the Karadzic trial, and what he said today in the case against Mladic. This prompted presiding judge Orie to intervene several times, asking the witness to clarify what was actually true: the claims he made in his written statement, or those he made in court today. Mandic confirmed that his statement was correct. In the written statement, Mandic claims that the Serbs decided to take over power in Prijedor after they intercepted the cables exchanged by Alija Delimustafic and Jerko Doko. The former was the police minister and the latter the defense minister.In the cables, Delimustafic and Doko ordered attacks on Serbs and the JNA. This January at Karadzic's trial, Mandic stated that the plan to take over Prijedor had been put together before those events. Today the witness told the prosecutor that the plans were made when a Serb wedding guest was killed in Sarajevo in March 1992.

The prosecutor asked Mandic about the instructions issued by the SDS Main Board for the takeover of municipalities where Serbs were either in the majority or in the minority. The instructions are known as Variant A and B. Mandic replied that he ‘didn’t know’ whether the authorities in Prijedor had received the instructions. Finally, the witness did admit that he was ‘definitely told’ that Karadzic wanted to step up the efforts to implement the two variants of the plan. The claim was corroborated by the minutes from a meeting of the Prijedor SDS in February 1992. The witness also attended that meeting.

Speaking about the attacks on the villages of Hambarine and Kozarac in late May 1992, the witness said that he didn’t know that ‘hundreds of Muslims’ were killed’ in the operations. Mandic added that ‘it was not my job’, but if ‘there are reports’, then it is ‘logical to accept’ that version of events.

As he answered the prosecutor's questions, Mandic concluded that he ‘can only accept’ that ‘non-Serbs who had nothing to do with combat operations were detained’ in Omarska and Keraterm. Also, he heard that ‘non-Serbs were tortured’ in the Prijedor prison camps, the witness admitted.Mandic however ‘personally didn’t see anything’.

Numerous inconsistencies between Mandic’s testimonies prompted the presiding judge to urge him to ‘think about' them during the break to decide whether he wanted to stick to the claims he made in the written statement to Mladic’s defense. After the break, the witness said the only explanation ‘off the top of my head' he could offer was that he thought it was ‘not necessary to talk about facts which are general knowledge’. The ‘Tribunal certainly knows’ about the killings in Keraterm or during the mop-up operations, Mandic noted. According to Mandic, he had no information about the crimes against the non-Serbs. Tomorrow in the re-examination Mandic will be asked questions by the defense counsel.