EXPLOITING ISLAMOPHOBIA IN TRIBUNAL’S COURTROOM
Commenting on ideas Alija Izetbegovic had presented in the Islamic Declaration and their implementation, Mile Dmicic says that Serbs and Croats feared the domination of Islam. Secular Bosniaks feared it, too, the witness notes. Dmicic, a former official in the BH Presidency, didn’t agree with the defense's suggestion that the BH president had advocated terrorism
Now, when Islamic extremism and its consequences are making headlines in the world media, Ratko Mladic’s defense transposed the issue to the courtroom in The Hague during the evidence of Mile Dmicic today. Among other jobs, the witness was an official in the BH Presidency. In his statement to the defense and in his previous testimony at Radovan Karadzic’s request, the witness spoke about working as the Bosnian Serb president’s head of office during the war. Mladic’s defense made a strategic decision to disregard all of Dmicic’s previous statements and to question him only about Alija Izetbegovic’s views expressed in the Islamic Declaration. The text was first published in 1970. At times, it seemed as if – following last week’s events in Paris – Mladic’s defense was trying to describe Izetbegovic and his Islamic declaration as precursors of the so-called Islamic State. To pursue the analogy further, that would make Mladic Putin if not Assad.
The examination-in-chief didn’t run smoothly after the judges did not allow Dmicic to testify as an expert. He could only give evidence as a fact witness. Also, the Trial Chamber found that Dmicic’s testimony was ‘lengthy, chaotic and irrelevant’. The judges’ assessment prompted defense counsel Branko Lukic to react strongly. Right from the start, the Trial Chamber has fought the admission of the Islamic Declaration into evidence, Lukic claimed. The judges stated clearly that they had never obstructed the admission of the document into evidence. On the contrary, the judges only wanted to do it properly and in line with the procedure.
The defense then shifted its tactics: instead of asking the witness to analyze excerpts from the Islamic Declaration, the defense counsel read out parts of the book. He then asked Dmicic if before the war Dmicic had seen Izetbegovic and the SDA leadership implement what had been put down in the text. The witness replied that Serbs and Croats in BH feared the domination of Islam. But, the witness noted, secular Bosniaks were also afraid of it.
One of the quotes states Muslims ‘have taken their destiny in their own hands’ and ‘under present conditions…struggle’ for new goals to create a ‘great Islamic federation from Morocco to Indonesia’. As Dmicic said, Izetbegovic was a wise politician who didn’t openly advocate conflict. As the president, Izetbegovic looked for options to solve the crisis, Dmicic explained. At the defense counsel’s suggestion Dmicic was able to recall that once Izetbegovic said that he would ‘sacrifice peace for BH’s sovereignty’. According to Dmicic, Izetbegovic’s final goal was to create a centralized, unitary state dominated by Muslims’.
Izetbegovic wrote in the Declaration that 'One who rises against Islam will reap nothing but hate and resistance'. This gave the defense counsel a cue to ask if Izetbegovic had ever made terror threats. Dmicic said Izetbegovic had not, and was adamant specifying that he ‘never heard such claims in public’. At the end of the examination-in-chief, the defense counsel asked Dmicic about the arrival of Mujahideen in Bosnia. Dmicic replied that about 10,000 Mujahideen arrived from various countries – from Saudi Arabia or Indonesia. The Mujahideen came to BH at the request of Bosnian politicians who had links with those countries dating from before the war, Dmicic explained.
After Dmicic completed his evidence, the defense military expert General Mitar Kovac returned to the courtroom briefly. Kovac will continue his evidence tomorrow after yet another testimony via video link from Banja Luka. The evidence of Dragan Vujcic, a former VRS soldier, is not expected to take more than an hour.
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