On the sixth day of his testimony at the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, Momcilo Mandic spoke about the Serb-Croat negotiations about the division of BH. The participants, as he claims, were Tudjman and Boban on the one side and Radovan Karadzic, Momcilo Krajisnik and Slobodan Milosevic on the other. According to Mandic, in Bosnia “everybody was fighting everybody and everybody negotiated with everybody.”

Momcilo Mandic testifying in the Krajisnik trialMomcilo Mandic testifying in the Krajisnik trial

Paramilitary groups such as Arkan’s and Seselj’s men in Sarajevo were put under the command of either the RS military or the RS police at the beginning of the war and some of them acted independently, Momcilo Mandic said today. The witness is a former RS justice minister, testifying as a prosecution witness for the sixth day at the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, charged with genocide and other crimes in BH.

In order to illustrate that Mandic had been informed about the presence of paramilitaries in Sarajevo, the prosecutor played a recording of an intercepted conversation in which Mandic asks a man by the name of Igor to “get some radicals out of the ambush” because “Seselj called from Belgrade” to make this demand.

As he commented on some other intercepts presented by the prosecutor, Mandic mentioned several times that at that time – in the spring of 1992 – he had been in conflict with his former colleagues in the BH MUP and that he “knew they had him under audio surveillance.” In order to pay them back in a way, Mandic often, as he claims, made fun of them and taunted them by making cynical statements.

This is his explanation for the fact that in a telephone conversation dated 10 July 1992, with Branko Kvesic who, as a “Croat representative”, was under-secretary of the state of BH, Mandic described the easiest way to have “a democratic state with a Serb majority” – “give the Turks 24 salaries and set up an airlift to Turkey.”

The prosecutor however used the derogatory conversation between a Serb and a Croat about Muslims to launch a new line of questioning concerning the negotiations about the division of BH. “We knew about those negotiations,” Mandic confirmed, adding that they were conducted by Serbs and Croats, “Tudjman and Boban on the one side and Radovan [Karadzic], Momo [Momcilo Krajisnik], Slobodan [Milosevic] on the other…” According to Mandic, Radovan Karadzic and Mate Boban did most of the negotiating at meetings organized by Kvesic. “In Bosnia, everybody fought everybody and everybody negotiated with everybody,” Mandic said.

Mandic was appointed the justice minister in the first RS government in May 1992. He confirmed that “the Bosnian Serb leadership at that time supported the division of the city of Sarajevo along the Miljacka river.” As Mandic explained, it was an alternative solution, in case Cutilheiro’s plan for the division of BH into cantons were rejected. The proposal was discussed in Lisbon at the time. In one of the intercepts played in the courtroom, Mandic explains to the other party that the outcome of the meeting in Lisbon is being awaited, but that the alternative solution was the “destruction of Sarajevo”. “This was the widely accepted view of the Bosnian Serb leadership,” Mandic confirmed.

Mandic claims that Momcilo Krajisnik was informed about the conditions in the “camps and reception centers” set up by Bosnian Serbs. “In addition to reporting to the government about it, I reported to Krajisnik,” Mandic said. He added quite specifically that he had definitely informed him about the “conditions in the Kula prison” where his office as the minister was located for a time.

Momcilo Mandic’s testimony should continue tomorrow, but Krajisnik’s defense has indicated that it would not be ready to begin the cross-examination. The accused himself has asked leave to pose some questions to the witness. The Chamber is expected to deliver tomorrow its ruling as to how Mandic’s testimony is to proceed.