News 07 Nov 12

Karadzic’s Trial: Soldiers Deny Opening Fire on Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic two ex Bosnian Serbs soldiers denied that their units opened fire on civilians from positions around Sarajevo.

Justice Report
BIRN
Sarajevo

Predrag Trapara, the commander of one of the companies of the 1st Sarajevo Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, and Slobodan Tusevljak, who commanded a platoon in the same brigade, reiterated claims of previous Karadzic’s witnesses that they only defended their positions from the attacks by Bosniak forces from Sarajevo.
 
According to the summary of their written statements, which Karadzic read out, Trapara and Tusevljak testified that they never received the order, nor they had the intention, to terrorise the population of Sarajevo, or cause civilian casualties.
 
Just like the previous defence witnesses, Trapara and Tusevljak claimed that their units did not have trained snipers, and that they could not have been responsible for deaths of civilians, which, according to the indictment, were targeted by the Army of Republika Srpska snipers.
 
The prosecutor, Feargal Gaynor, questioned the authenticity Trapara’s statement by pointing out that the witness was arrested in October 1991 while transporting huge amounts of weaponry and ammunition in a truck.
 
“I did not know it was that much, I did not load the ammunition,” replied the witness.
 
Karadzic, former president of the Republika Srpska and the supreme commander of its army, is charged with the Srebrenica genocide, the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from territories under Bosnian Serb control, taking UN peacekeepers as hostages and terrorizing Sarajevo citizens.
 
Trapara denied that his brigade had a “considerable amount of sniper rifles” until the prosecutor presented him with a whole list of rifles from a document belonging to the Army of Republika Srpska.
 
In his statement, Tusevljak denied the responsibility of his unit for two sniper attacks on civilians specified in the indictment, claiming that from its position you could not see the locations at which those civilians were shot.
 
The indictment specified that a single shot wounded 35-year old Nadja Taric and her eight year old daughter Elma on September 3, 1993 in downtown Sarajevo. Seid Solak, who was 13 at the time, was wounded in the stomach on July 22, 1994, in the neighbourhood of Cengic Vila.
 
After the prosecutor Caroline Edgerton showed him the picture of these places, Tusevljak conceded that they could have been seen from other Bosnian Serb army positions.
 
Karadzic’s trial also heard this week a testimony from Slavko Gengo, the former commander of one of the battalions with the 1st Romanija Brigade of the Bosnian Serb army who testified about the massacre at Sarajevo’s Markale market on February 5, 1994 where a grenade killed 66 and wounded 140 people.
 
In his testimony Gengo concurred with the previous testimonies of defence witnesses who said that the Bosnian Serb forces positioned around Sarajevo exclusively defended themselves and that Bosnian Serbs they did not have any intention to terrorize civilians.
 
Although he said that he got information about the Markale explosion from the media, Gengo suggested that the crime was staged by the Sarajevo authorities.
 
“I can assure you that the Republika Srpska Army did not fire the grenade at the Markale market,” the witness said.
 
Karadzic’s trial will continue on Thursday, November 8.

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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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