News 23 Jun 10

Karadzic Questions Credibility of Witness

On the last day of his cross-examination of General John Wilson, Radovan Karadzic questioned the credibility of the prosecution witness.

Nidzara Ahmetasevic

Karadzic, the wartime leader of the Bosnian Serbs who is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, posed a number of questions that the witness could not answer.

General Wilson was not certain who the minister of defence in Bosnia and Herzegovina was in 1992, and he was unsure about some parts of Sarajevo and about the way the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina was organised in the city.

“Mr Karadzic, from my position I was not obliged to know everything, but to know how to find information that was needed, and that was my job. I did not know everything about every incident that happened, and it is true that many things were unclear, in gray areas in that conflict and it was impossible to attribute everything that was going on,” the witness said.

General John Wilson was a liaison officer in the UN monitoring peace-keeping mission in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina from for 10 months during 1991 and 1992. Later on, in 1993, he worked as a military adviser in the negotiating team headed by special envoys of the international community Cyrus Vance, Lord Owen and Thorvald Stoltenberg.  

After seven hours of questioning over a three day period the cross-examination of General Wilson is over.

During his cross-examination Karadzic was warned by the trial chamber several times about the way he asked questions and made statements. He has also been warned about his cross-examination method during previous cross-examinations.

The prosecution will call a protected witness for the next hearing on June 28.

After that, the next witness will be Momcilo Mandic, a former close associate of Karadzic and the minister of justice in his government in 1992 and chief of the Office of Republika Srpska in Belgrade. Before the war Mandic was assistant minister of the interior of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

While Karadzic was in hiding after the war, Mandic was suspected to be a part of the ring that was helping him and as a result in 2003 he was banned from travelling to the EU. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in 2008, while the ban on Mandic is still valid.

However, the Tribunal issued an order for safe conduct for Mandic during the period he will be in The Hague as a witness. The statute of the ICTY asks for cooperation from all the states “in the investigation and prosecution of the persons accused of committing serious violations of international humanitarian law” and to comply with orders issued by the Tribunal.

According to the order, safe conduct for Mandic is guaranteed from June 25 to July 3 on his travel from Serbia, where he now lives, to the Netherlands, meaning that “he cannot be arrested, detained, prosecuted or subject to any other restriction, whether physical or legal, of his personal liberty”.

Karadzic demanded that the ICTY order the lifting of the ban for Mandic completely, but the request was denied with the explanation that the Tribunal does not have the power to interfere in questions of EU policy.

In 2010, Mandic was acquitted of war crimes charges by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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