News 05 Nov 12

Karadzic’s Trial: Witness Claims Serbs Only Acted in Defence

As the trial of Radovan Karadzic continues, the witness Momir Garic says that Serb forces did not have an intention to terrorize civilians in Sarajevo in 1992, but just to defend Serb villages.

Justice Report
BIRN
The Hague

Garic, former officer of the Territorial Defence in Novo Sarajevo, said that the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Republika Srpska Army, acted only to prevent the breakthrough by the Bosnian Army from Sarajevo to Serb territories.

The witness said that Bosnian Serb forces respected the international law provisions, while Bosniak forces misused civilian buildings and smuggled weapons in humanitarian aid convoys.

Karadzic, the former President of Republika Srpska and the supreme commander of its army, is charged with terrorizing civilians in Sarajevo by artillery and sniper attacks. He is on trial for genocide, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats and taking UN peacekeepers as hostages.

According to Garic, when the war began, the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, dissolved while the headquarters of Territorial Defence forces, including the one in Novo Sarajevo where the witness worked, “organized themselves”.

“An organized group of citizens set a defence line in front of houses and neighborhoods inhabited by Serbs. There was not a single attack by Serbs on neighbourhoods where Muslims were the majority. The division lines remained unchanged until the end of the war,” Garic said.

According to Garic’s testimony, at the beginning of May 1992 a JNA brigade arrived in Novo Sarajevo and appended a local Territorial Defence unit to it. In mid-May the brigade took control over Grbavica “in order to protect the Serb population, which was the majority”.

At the same time, many Serb civilians were killed in a heavy attack by “Muslim forces” on Sarajevo neighbourhood of Pofalici, Garic said, adding that he assumed a function with the Ministry of Defence of RS in December 1992.

During the cross examinations by the prosecution, Garic denied having been “commander of a Republika Srpska army battalion”, although this was mentioned in one of his statements. He said that he was a TO officer in the Novo Sarajevo municipality.

The prosecution presented the witness with a series of intercepted conversations, in which a person identified as Momo Garic asked for urgent help in manpower and armour on April 21, 1992, after his soldiers “went down to River Miljacka” and became surrounded.  

The witness insisted that he was not Momo Garic who conducted those conversations.

“This does not sound like me. The voice sounds like a child’s voice,” Garic said.

When asked by Judge Kwon whether Momo was his nickname, Garic answered negatively, adding that people called him “Moka or Moco”.

After that Garic was presented with a list of Karadzic’s defence witnesses, where he was mentioned as Momo Garic. “I did not know that. I sign myself as Momir,” the witness said.

The trial is due to continue on Tuesday, November 6. 

 

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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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