The trial of the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, has continued with the testimony of the former president of the Pale Crisis Committee, Zdravko Cvoro.
Testifying as a defence witness, Cvoro said that Bosniaks left Pale, the Bosnian Serb wartime capital, voluntarily in the spring of 1992.
“I can guarantee you that there was no forcible deportation of Muslims from Pale…The initiative came from Muslims themselves, who visited us, either individually or in groups,” Cvoro said.
He said that Bosniaks “felt insecure” in Pale, because they were “afraid of revenge for crimes” committed by Bosniak forces against Serbs in other places hence a large number of requests to move out which they filed with the municipal authorities.
Cvoro said that he visited those individuals who filed the requests, in order to persuade them not to leave and to give them guarantees for their safety.
Despite that, Bosniaks stuck to their original intention. In mid-June 1992 the Pale Municipal Assembly “admitted their right to freedom of movement”.
During the cross-examination, the prosecutor, Alan Tieger, presented evidence indicating that Bosniaks left Pale due to pressure being put by Serb police, whose members “disturbed and threatened them”, and that Cvoro himself protested at a meeting of the Pale Municipal Assembly, because “police was trying to organize expulsion of Muslims”.
The witness confirmed that the municipal authorities were “not satisfied with the work of police”.
Radovan Karadzic, the former president of Republika Srpska, is charged with persecution of Bosniaks and Croats in municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens and taking international soldiers as hostages.
Three other witnesses, who testified before Cvoro, denied the allegations that civilians in Sarajevo were intentionally targeted by snipers and mortars.
Blasko Rasevic, who was commander of one of the companies with the Romanija Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, Vlade Lucic, former commander of a battalion with the same brigade and Dragan Maletic, his deputy, all said that their units did not open artillery or sniper fire at civilians in the city.
Karadzic’s trial is due to continue on December 5.
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.