News 04 Apr 13

Karadzic ‘Sacrificed Himself for Serbs’, Says Dodik

Current Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik praised his predecessor Radovan Karadzic ahead of testifying in his defence at his Hague Tribunal war crimes trial.

Denis Dzidic

The president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said that Karadzic had given everything for his people, which was why he would testify in his defence next week at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

“Karadzic sacrificed himself and the well-being of his family for the interests of Republika Srpska,” he told reporters in Banja Luka on Thursday.

Dodik, who was a lawmaker in Republika Srpska during the 1990s war, said he had never seen any of the atrocities that Karadzic is accused of committing while he was the Bosnian Serbs' political leader.

“As an MP, I met Karadzic during the war, but I was never a witness to crimes,” he said.

Dodik also announced he would testify that the Bosnian secession from Yugoslavia was illegal, since Serbs boycotted the independence referendum on March 1, 1992 and so late president Alija Izetbegovic was not a legitimate representative of all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Serb representatives did not take part in the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time. This is why I am continuing to repeat today that Bosnia cannot last as a common state, because it is a country on life support, a diseased country held together by the international community,” said Dodik.

This week the ICTY also denied for the second time a request from Karadzic to subpoena former Bosnian Army commander Naser Oric to testify in his defence.

Karadzic first asked the Tribunal to subpoena Oric in November last year, in order to testify about attacks on Serb villages launched from Srebrenica and the surrounding areas by the Bosnian Army. However, this request was denied because Karadzic had failed to “exhaust reasonable efforts to ensure Oric’s voluntary cooperation”.

Karadzic again contacted Oric and asked him to testify but Oric’s defence lawyer responded by saying that Karadzic had failed to show that issuing a subpoena was necessary and that his client’s testimony would not assist his defence.

“It appears likely that the sole purpose of the proposed subpoena is for the propaganda coup that it would hand Karadzic to be seen to be ‘cross-examining’ Oric,” claimed his lawyer.

Oric further argued that he did not command the Bosnian Army troops in the Srebrenica enclave during the Bosnian war and was unable to testify to the alleged “sacrificing of Srebrenica by the Bosnian government” or about attacks on Bosnian Serb villages prior to the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The ICTY trial chamber decided that although Karadzic had made reasonable efforts to obtain Oric’s voluntary cooperation, a subpoena would not be issued because the information Oric might give could be obtained through other witnesses.

“Some of the information that Karadzic is seeking from Oric is generally similar to testimonial or documentary evidence that is already on the record,” the trial chamber said in its decision statement.

Oric, a former senior commander of Bosnian Army units in the east of the country, was acquitted by the Hague Tribunal of crimes in Srebrenica in July 2008.

Karadzic’s trial – for genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens and taking UN peacekeepers hostage between 1992 and 1995 – is continuing this week.

In a separate development on Thursday, former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic pleaded not guilty to contempt of court charges for failing to comply with a subpoena to testify in Karadzic’s defence.

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