A WITNESS TO THE LIKING OF THE ACCUSED
Claiming that crisis staffs operated on instructions from "above" – from the top tiers of government – prosecution witness Predrag Radic tries to diminish the role of Pale’s political leadership in events relevant to the indictment against the former speaker of the Bosnian Serb Assembly, Momcilo Krajisnik.
In two interviews he gave to Tribunal investigators in 2001 and 2003 as a suspect, the wartime mayor of Banja Luka, Predrag Radic, quite understandably tried to defend himself. It seems he was successful; he was charged.
Then, last November, Radic appeared in The Hague as a defense witness at the trial of Radoslav Brdjanin, former president of the Crisis Staff of the Autonomous Region of Krajina. The gist of his testimony then was that the ARK Crisis Staff was not able to make any independent decisions and only implemented orders from "above”-- from Pale. "You are wasting your time with the crisis staffs, it all came from the top," Radic claimed quite emphatically at the time. But judges did not accept this theory and Brdjanin was found guilty of the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Krajina. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
The theory of orders from "above" was, however, accepted by prosecutors in the case against one of the top Bosnian Serb political leaders, Momcilo Krajisnik, when they brought Radic to The Hague as a prosecution witness. Prosecutors wanted him to confirm his previous testimony, both in the interviews he gave to OTP investigators (when he defended himself) and when he appeared before the court last year (when he defended Brdjanin).
This time, however, Radic was not as categorical about the orders from "above." He tried to tone down his previous statements, claiming now that the municipal crisis staffs often "did things on their own" rather then follow directives from the top. Since he claimed in his previous testimony that Pale sometimes "bypassed the regional level" and communicated directly with the municipalities, giving them orders what to do, Radic now explained that by "sometimes" he actually meant "seldom."
In his interviews with investigators and during his testimony at the Brdjanin trial, Radic claimed that "everyone, even those in the top tiers of the government," criticized him for not having "cleansed" his municipality "properly" and, particularly, for leaving the Banja Luka mosques untouched until 1993. At the Brdjanin trial, he was asked whether "those in the top tiers of the government" included Karadzic and Krajisnik. Radic responded (as the prosecutor reminded him today) that although they had discussed it "several times," they were "smart enough not to say that directly"; instead, they kept sending their emissaries, particularly Velibor Ostojic, who was "constantly on his back."
But today, Radic claimed he was "not sure" that he mentioned Karadzic and Krajisnik in that context during his previous testimony, although he accepts "it is probably true, since that is what it is written here." He confirmed that he had spoken with them in Banja Luka, "not about the ethnic cleansing, but about the participation of Croats and Muslims in the municipal government." If anyone expressed his dissatisfaction with the presence of Croats and Muslims in the authorities, it "could have been Karadzic, rather than Krajisnik," Radic recalled today.
It remains to be seen what spin Radic would put on his statement if he were to find himself testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic.