News 06 Dec 12

Karadzic’s Trial Hears About Crimes in Grbavica

The witness for Radovan Karadzic’s defence denied that Bosniaks and Croats were expelled from the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Grbavica in the autumn of 1992.

Justice Report
BIRN
The Hague

Branko Radan, the former president of the Serb municipality of Novo Sarajevo, said that around 300 non-Serb citizens left Grbavica in September 1992 and moved to the city.

While examined by Karadzic, the witness said that a group of “people who came from the outside” and who “gave non-Serbs grief” created “enormous problems” for the authorities at Grbavica.

“The biggest problem was Veselin Vlahovic a.k.a. Batko. We did not support that group, we wanted to remove them from our territory any way we could and eventually we did,” said Radan.

Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, is charged with the Srebrenica genocide, the expulsion of non Serbs across Bosnia, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo with artillery and sniper attacks and taking UN peacekeepers as hostages.

 

The witness said that one of Vlahovic’s men shot at his car.  He was arrested, but was released soon afterwards.

After he left the duty of the president of the municipal government, Radan was replaced, he said, by Budo Obradovic, “who sought to impose even stricter discipline but was he was murdered after a month”.

Describing the departure of non Serbs in September 1992, Radan said that they did it so that “they could be safer”, since at Grbavica they lived on the frontline.

During the cross-examination, the prosecutor, Katrina Gustafson, confronted the witness with the claim that Vlahovic and his men had protection from the authorities and that they committed mass crimes at Grbavica.

Having confirmed that he heard from the citizens about “sporadic, but not constant” crimes, Radan, however, denied that the Serb leadership, among whom he considered himself, protected Vlahovic’s group.

Trying to prove the link between Vlahovic’s group and the authorities in Republika Srpska, Gustafson used the book by Biljana Plavsic, in which she wrote that in July 1992 Serbs stopped her at Grbavica and complained of the crimes committed by “Monster Batko”.

Soon afterwards, Plavsic related everything she heard, in Karadzic’s presence, to the then Minister of Justice, Momcilo Mandic, and the Minister of the Interior, Mica Stanisic.

She expected them to be appalled, but Mandic only said: “Ah, Batko.” “They knew him well, and they did not hide it... They were his protectors and they gave him orders,” wrote Plavsic, as quoted in the courtroom by Gustafson.

Plavsic pointed out in her book that she asked Karadzic to dismiss and arrest Mandic and Stanisic over this, but he told her: “You are asking me to cut off my right hand.”

Radan suggested that Plavic’s book was not an authentic source.

Biljana Plavsic pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 11 years of prison by the Hague Tribunal. Mica Stanisic is currently on trial at the Hague, while Veselin Vlahovic is tried at the Bosnian State Court.

The trial of Karadzic will resume on Tuesday, December 11.

 

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Background

Karadzic: War Criminal or Poet?

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.  

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

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.

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