Former member of the ARK Crisis Staff Milorad Sajic has denied that the local authorities geared their policies towards forcing out non-Serbs. According to the prosecution evidence, Croats and Muslims were dismissed from public posts, detained in prison camps, forced to leave and prevented from returning…

Milorad Sajic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMilorad Sajic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Milorad Sajic has already testified at the trials of Radislav Brdjanin and Radovan Karadzic. Now Milorad Sajic stands before the Tribunal for the last time as Ratko Mladic’s defense witness. At the beginning of the war in BH, Sajic was appointed secretary for national defense in the so-called Autonomous Region of Krajiina (ARK). Sajic was also a member of the ARK Crisis Staff. As alleged by the prosecution, the Bosnian Serb leadership used the ARK Crisis Staff to implement ethnic cleansing of Serb territories in northwestern BH. The Tribunal in The Hague sentenced Radoslav Brdjanin, president of the ARK Crisis Staff, to 30 years. Brdjanin is serving the sentence in Denmark.

In his statement to Karadzic’s defense, which is now being used by Mladic’s defense, Sajic denied that the Crisis Staff had had a role in the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbs in Krajina. Just in case, the witness also denied that the Krajina leadership had been in touch with the leadership in Pale. In the summary of the witness’s statement, defense counsel Stojanovic highlighted that, according to the witness, the ‘military structure never was under the control of the Krajina civil authorities’.

Stressing that the Krajina Muslims and Croats were pressured to leave, the prosecutor presented two Crisis Staff decisions from May and June 1992. The decisions state that only personnel ‘loyal to the Serb nation and republic’ could hold leading posts in public companies. Those were only Serbs, the prosecutor noted. The witness told him that the Serb Democratic Party did not do anything out of the ordinary when it prohibited non-Serbs from holding such posts when it assumed power. Sajic remarked that even today, the ruling parties appointed only their personnel to top positions. As for the Muslims and Croats who were dismissed from their posts, not all of them were automatically fired, the witness explained.

According to the prosecutor, non-Serbs fled Krajina en masse when the Serb authorities began implementing the systematic crime campaign by detaining, abusing and killing non-Serbs in Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje prison camps. In his statement to the defense the witness described a visit of the ARK delegation to the Omarska prison camp. Predrag Radic, Banja Luka mayor, told the witness ‘that he was shocked’ with what he had seen there. Sajic confirmed it today, adding thathe learned about the crimes perpetrated there at a later stage.

According to the ARK Crisis Staff documents the witness referred to today, Muslims and Croats would be granted permission to leave Krajina when the ‘other side’ allowed Serbs to leave the territory which was not under the Serb military control. The documents also stated that Serbs would be settled into abandoned houses in Krajina, and that the return of non-Serbs should be prevented. Sajic explained that ‘all sorts of things’ were written down in those decisions but not all of them were implemented. Nevertheless, the prosecution documents showed that the municipalities had implemented a plan to evacuate, or ‘swap populations’. The prosecutor was also trying to prove that the Pale leadership and the ARK leaders were in constant touch. To corroborate his allegation, the prosecutor played an intercepted conversation between Karadzic and Brdjanin from November 1991. In the conversation, Karadzic told Brdjanin not to ‘call me so often, because I am not your nanny’. Also, the prosecutor presented evidence that Karadzic and Mladic arrived in Banja Luka during the war. There, Karadzic and Mladic met with Brdjanin and other Krajina leaders, the prosecutor claimed.

Radoslav Brdnjanin’s infamous speech at a rally in Banja Luka in 1994 showed the true nature of the ARK Crisis Staff’s attitude towards the non-Serbs, the prosecutor noted. Brdjaninsaid that the Serbs were under an obligation ‘for the next one hundred years to wipe off their shoes the non-Christian scum who have sullied this country of ours’. Brdjanin proposed to put up a barbed wire fence around the main square in Banja Luka to prevent the ‘Serb enemies’ from entering it ever. The witness replied that the speech ‘is not clear’, in a bid to relativize Brdjanin’s words. For example, the witness explained that the words ‘non-Christian scum’ didn’t necessarily refer to an entire nation; it could refer to political representatives only. Also, when Brdjanin spoke about putting up a barbed wire fence, he may have meant putting it up around just one square in Banja Luka, not the entire Krajina.