WHO NEEDED WAR IN BH?
Vojislav Kupresanin, former Autonomous Region of Krajina official, stated in the re-examination that the Bosnian Serb army was the ‘third or fourth or possibly the fifth strongest army in the world'. As he said, during the war, he was in favor of capturing the entire territory of BH and annexing it to Serbia, but Pale leadership was only interested in protecting the Serb people. As a result, his idea was not taken up, Kupresanin explained. Kupresanin blamed the international community and Western Europe for the disintegration of Yugoslavia. As far as Kupresanin could remember, he didn’t say that the war ‘was necessary for the Serb nation’
Defense counsel Branko Lukic used up all the time he had been given for Vojislav Kupresanin’s re-examination in a bid to rehabilitate Kupresanin and correct the answers he had given in the cross-examination that, in Lukic’s view, didn’t favor the defense. At the time relevant for the indictment against Ratko Mladic, Kupresanin was the speaker of the assembly of the so-called Autonomous Region of Krajina.
Speaking about the strength of the Bosnian Serb army, the witness said that it was the ‘third or fourth or possibly the fifth strongest army in the world’capable of capturing the entire BH easily. According to the witness, such an army could ‘cut through [BH] like cheese'. As Kupresanin told the court,he publicly advocated that course of action, saying the whole of BH should be annexed to Serbia and then normal life and business could resume. However, the only goal of the Pale leadership was to ‘defend the Serb people’, as the witness was purportedly told.
Although he was in favor of capturing the entire BH, the witness, who was an ARK official himself, claimed at the same time that the ARK was not designed to be part of a Serb republic within BH. Kupresanin would not budge from the claim he made at the beginning of his evidence: the ARK was established solely for economic reasons. The witness stressed that care was taken not to use the adjective ‘Serb’in the name, in order to make sure that the other ethnic groups would feel‘untroubled’.
As the prosecutor noted yesterday, the crimes in the Prijedor prison camps and in the Krajina towns and villages did cause trouble. According to the prosecutor, Croats and Muslims were killed en masse while their property and churches were destroyed. The prosecutor stressed that the Bosnian Serb top leadership headed by President Karadzic and General Mladic, was to blame. In his interview with the OTP investigators in 2001, Kupresanin said that the prison camps in Prijedor were established on the ‘orders from above’, the prosecutor noted, while today he argued that the local authorities –the Prijedor Crisis Staff –established the prison camps ‘on their own initiative’.
Kupresanin blamed the international community, or, more specifically,‘Western Europe’for the war in BH. As far as Kupresanin knew, ‘one day in Rome a decision was made that Yugoslavia should die’. At the end of his evidence, the prosecutor asked the witness a few additional questions. As the prosecutor recalled, at an assembly session in January 1993 the witness said that the war ‘was necessary for the Serb nation’to establish its supremacy in BH. It was Kupresanin’s opinion, the prosecutor noted, that a conflict would be welcome in Serbia too, to stop Albanians and Muslims from‘seizing power’in Belgrade ‘with the help of the Serb opposition’.Kupresanin listened carefully to the transcript of his words and tersely replied that he could not remember any of it. He was adamant that he had not seen the text before.
At the end of his testimony, the witness thanked the court for giving him the opportunity to tell the truth once again before the Tribunal. As Kupresanin said, ‘the truth I spoke is sufficient’; this made him quite‘happy’. Kupresanin could not take his leave of the accused Mladic. Yesterday, after he applauded Kupresanin who had sung his praises, Mladic was removed from the courtroom until the end of Kupresanin’s evidence.
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