MUSLIMS LEFT BOSANSKI NOVI ‘VOLUNTARILY’
Former Crisis Staff president Radomir Pasic claimed that Muslims left Bosanski Novi ‘voluntarily’; the local authorities merely provided assistance. The prosecutor put it to him they had no other choice but to ‘leave voluntarily’
Radomir Pasic, war-time president of the Bosanski Novi Crisis Staff, has testified at two trials before the Tribunal: that of Momcilo Krajisnik and later, of Radovan Karadzic. The indictments against the two accused included the crimes committed in that municipality. Before the trial began, the charges pertaining to Bosanski Novi were dropped from Ratko Mladic’s indictment to streamline the proceedings. Mladic’s defense nevertheless decided to call Pasic as a witness.
Mladic’s defense counsels decided to use the statement Pasic had given to Karadzic's defense team. In it, the witness explained that the municipal authorities couldn’t guarantee Muslims their safety. This, coupled with the dismal economic and political situation, made the Muslims want to leave Bosanski Brod. The Crisis Staff only ‘provided them assistance’ to leave the territory controlled by the Bosnian Serbs.
The prosecutor, on the other hand, put it to the witness that the Muslims' departure was the result of ethnic cleansing and that the ethnic Muslim had no other choice but to leave because of the crimes committed against them. The attacks by the Serb police and Territorial Defense threatened the Muslims’ safety. The witness claimed only the paramilitaries were to blame.
A Crisis Staff proclamation of 8 June 1992 was admitted into evidence;it urged the Muslim population from the Blagaj and Dolina Japre area to evacuate. If the Muslims refused to do so, their safety could no longer be guaranteed. Pasic replied that no one in Bosanski Novi, and this obviously includedMuslims, could be granted their safety. The prosecutor asked him if any similar proclamations had ever been addressed to Serbs. Despite several interventions of the Trial Chamber, the witness refused to answer.
A few days after the announcement, about 4,000 Muslims from Bosanski Novi were put on a train, in 22 sealed cars, and the train set off forZenica. Pasic confirmed it, although he was not able to tell the exact number of the evacuees. According to the prosecution evidence, the train was stopped in Doboj. Several hundred men were taken off the train and returned to Bosanski Novi. The men were detained in Mlakve, a local stadium, and held there until 22 or 23 July 1992. Then they were transported to Croatia.
The witness also mentioned in his statement that UNPROFOR was involved in the evacuation of Muslims from the Mlakve Stadium. The prosecutor recalled the statements made by the UN representatives to foreign media in July 1992: they didn’t want to take part in the ethnic cleansing, but the local Serb authorities had blackmailed them into doing that. When the UN representatives were told that ‘something bad will happen’ to Muslims who were refusing to leave, the UN decided to provide support to the evacuation. Pasic noted that the UN members agreed to help when they realized that the Muslims were insistent about their departure. ‘They wanted to leave, it was their plan’, the witness concluded.
Ratko Mladic's trial continued with the evidence of Vojin Ubiparip, former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army Kotor Varos Brigade.
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