News 30 Nov 12

Civilians Were not Targeted, Says Karadzic’s Witness

At the trial of the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, a defence witness testified that the Bosnian Serb army never intentionally shot at civilians in Sarajevo.

Justice Report
The Hague

The Deputy Commander of the Ilidza Brigade of the Bosnian Serb army, Nikola Mijatovic, said that he had not been issued order to terrorise Sarajevo citizens nor that he had intent to terrorise.

Mijatovic said that there were clear orders to protect civilians and respect Geneva conventions.

Karadzic is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Bosnian war, including terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a campaign of shelling and sniping from 1992 to 1995.

Mijatovic confirmed that, due to lack of adequate ammunition, the Bosnian Serb army used modified air-bombs. He denied, however, claims by the Hague prosecution that the bombs were imprecise adding they were used only against military targets.

The Bosnian army, according to the witness, used to fire from the vicinity of the buildings where the UN protection forces were situated, such as the main post office building, in order to provoke Serbs into firing at international forces.

During the cross-examination, the prosecutor, Caroline Edgerton, insisted that the military targets which Mijatovic’s brigade was firing upon, were placed within “densely populated areas” and that “it was reasonable to expect” that the risk of civilian casualties would be high.

“It would have been even more reasonable to expect that the other side would have stayed away from civilians… We answered to fire with fire,” replied Mijatovic.

He added that his brigade fired at military targets only after its reconnaissance squad told them “there were no civilians near the target” and that their intention to scare the enemy into submission.

“But, you knew there were civilians there”, suggested the prosecutor, to which the witness replied affirmatively.

Karadzic’s trial heard on Thursday from the witnesses, Radojka Pandurevic and Angelina Pikulic, who talked about the lives of Serbs in Sarajevo during the war.

Pandurevic, an MP of the Serb Democratic Party in the Hadzici assembly, said that she was taken to the Silos camp in Tarcin on May 26, 1992 and released only in 1996.

Asked by Karadzic what were the grounds for her imprisonment Pandurevic replied: “Being a member of the Serb Democratic Party, and being a Serb.”

Describing the life of Serbs who remained in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Pofalici, Angelina Pikulic, said that “she was like a hostage in her own home”, because she could not go anywhere without a permit from policemen.

The trial continues on December 3.



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