The trial of Radovan Karadzic before the Hague Tribunal has continued with the testimony of a protected witness who recalled the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from Bosanski Novi in the spring and summer of 1992.
The witness, named as KDZ-011, said that Serb forces shelled Suhaca village, near Bosanski Novi, where he lived, for “seven days” in April 1992, although the non-Serb local residents had previously handed over their weapons.
The same witness said that on May 24, 1992 members of the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, told local residents they had to leave. About 1,200 Bosniaks [Muslims] left Suhaca after that.
According to this witness, the same happened to the non-Serb population in the surrounding villages, so between 8,000 and 10,000 people joined a convoy. As KDZ-011 said, the convoy was stopped by JNA members in the vicinity of Blagaj-Japra village.
Witness KDZ-011 said that after they had spent some time in the village, Serb soldiers forced Bosniaks to get on “cattle wagons” and transported them to Doboj, where all men aged 15 to 60 were separated from women, children and the elderly, who were transported to Croatia.
The protected witness said that about 750 men were transported back in those wagons to Bosanski Novi, where they were detained at the Mlakve football stadium as of June 11, 1992.
“We used to get little food and water. Serb guards treated us in a rough manner,” the witness said, adding that he lost 11 kilograms during his 46-day detention at the Mlakve stadium.
The witness said that, prior to being allowed to go to Croatia, the Bosniak captives had to sign statements waiving their property and leaving it to the Serb authorities.
Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, in collaboration with JNA members and local Serb authorities, with the aim of persecuting the non-Serb population in 20 Bosnian municipalities, including Bosanski Novi.
Besides that, Karadzic is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and seven other Bosnian municipalities, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo and taking United Nations soldiers hostages.
During the cross-examination Karadzic said that Bosniaks in Bosanski novi were armed and organized themselves into formations under the leadership of the Party for Democratic Action, SDA, as of the autumn of 1991. Witness KDZ-011 denied this allegation.
Witness Charles Kirudja, a former Kenyan diplomat, testifying at this hearing, said that while working as a UN official in the Knin region of Croatia, he witnessed the forcible resettlement of Bosniaks from northern Bosnia in the spring and summer of 1992. Kirudja was due to continue testifying on Friday, November 11.
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To the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, was a true sensation, and one to be exploited day after day.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.