Dragan Karac, intelligence officer in the VRS Sana Brigade, blamed Muslims for starting the conflict and capturing the municipal building in April 1992. Karac didn’t know that the SDS had made plans to seize power and to attack the municipal building. Karac was not aware of the Serb crimes in the territory of the Sanski Most municipality. That, as the prosecutor remarked, showed that Karac was a ‘poor intelligence officer’

Dragan Karac, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialDragan Karac, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Dragan Karac, former assistant to the chief of intelligence in the VRS 6th Sana Brigade, gave evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic. In his statement to the defense Karac said that in April 1992, Muslims, who were angered by the election results, stormed the Sanski Most municipal building. At the time Karac's unit was part of the JNA. Karac explained that the unit hadto re-take the municipal building and to disarm Muslim extremists for security reasons.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Carolyn Edgerton confronted the witness with an article published in the SDS party bulletin Informator published on 12 July 1992, on the Serbian Orthodox feast of St. Peter's Day. According to the article,the witnesss brigade took part in theliberationand cleansingof Bosanska Krupa, Hambarine, Kozarusa and Kozarac near Prijdor. The unit was also involved in creating the conditions for the takeover of power in Kljuc, in disarming and fighting back Muslim extremists in Vrhpolje and Hrustovo,cleaning up the territories on the left bank of the River Una, in Sanica, Krasulja and Vrhpolje.

Karac claimed that the 6th Sana Brigade didnt participate in the liberationof Bosanska Krupa. According to Karac, the unit was only involved in creating the conditions for the takeover of power in that municipality. Also, the witness confirmed that the brigade was involved in the action in which Hambarine and Kozarac near Prijedor were captured in creating the conditions for the takeover of power in Kljucand in disarming Muslim extremists in Vrhpolje and Hrustovo. Karac claimed that he hadno knowledgeof any other purported conquests his brigade had achieved.

The prosecutor asked the witness if he really claimed that the Muslims had taken the Sanski Most municipal building by force because they were unhappy with the 1990 election results. Contradicting his own words in the statement to the defense, Karac now said he actually didnt know the motivesbehind their action.He was unaware that the SDS had made plans to seize power and to launch an attack even before the Muslims captured the municipal building, as evidenced by some prosecution exhibits. Then you must have been a very poor intelligence officer, the prosecutor noted. The remark prompted the defense counsel to object. The witness, the defense counsel suggested, dealt only with the enemy activities.

Karac also denied that the VRS was responsible for the crimes the Serb forces committed in the villages of Mahala and Hrustovo. If there were crimes, the witness stressed, those were isolated cases. Karac didnt know that when the Serb troops attacked Mahala, they arrested about 2,000 men. He likewise knew nothingabout the murder of women and children in a garage in Hrustovo. He couldnt rule out the possibility that it had indeed happened, Karac noted. When Judge Orie asked the witness if he learned about the killings in Hrustovo later, the witness replied that he didnt and that hedidnt have any interest in that incident.

Karac agreed with the prosecutor that by the end of May 1992 most of the non-Serbs fled the villages of Mahala and Hrustovo. Replying to the judges Karac said that they left because they feared for their safety. Serbs were also scared, Karac explained, but a little bit less soand that was the reason why many of them stayed.