News 15 Nov 12

Karadzic’s Trial: Witness Testifies About the Sarajevo Siege

At the trial of the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, a defence witness had denied that the Army of Republika Srpska was responsible for two attacks on civilians in Sarajevo in 1993 and 1994.

Justice Report
BIRN
Sarajevo

Dusan Zurovac, the former commander of a company with the 1st Sarajevo Brigade of the Bosnian Serb army which was positioned in the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Vraca, said that from his unit’s positions it was not even possible to see the locations where civilians were attacked because some hills obstructed the view.

According to the indictment, the Bosnian Serb army was responsible for injuries sustained by 35-year old Nadja Taric and her eight-year old daughter Elma on September 3, 1993 and by 13-years old Seid Solak who was hit in his stomach on July 22, 1994.

Zurovac said that the Bosnian Serb army’s trenches were more than a kilometre away, too far to able to shoot at the civilians.

“It was not possible, because the enemy front line was in front of us. One would have to have been crazy to climb on a roof and shoot at a women walking with her child,” Zurovac explained.

Karadzic entered into evidence the photographs taken by the prosecution’s investigators as a proof that the locations of the incidents cited in the indictment could not have been seen from the positions of Zurovac’s unit.

Karadzic, the former President of Republika Srpska and the supreme commander of its army, is charged with terror against civilians in Sarajevo, with the genocide in Srebrenica, the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats and taking UN peacekeepers as hostages.

Zurovac echoed previous defence witnesses saying that his unit defended their own houses and families and did not undertake offensive actions against citizens of Sarajevo.

The witness said that, on the other hand, the Bosnian army constantly attacked and provoked the Bosnian Serb forces with an intention to move its lines.

During the cross-examination the prosecutor, Kimberly West, told the witness that the Serb side held Sarajevo under the siege, so the Bosnian army tried to break through the lines.

Zurovac denied her allegations, saying that “criminals, who overnight became senior officers in the enemy army, closed Sarajevo from the inside in order to rob” its citizens.

Replying to the prosecutor’s suggestion that keeping a town under siege is an act of aggression, Zurovac asked her  “how can a man be an aggressor against his own home?”

He also wondered how can the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, consisting of 15,000 people, keep, according to his estimates, 65,000 Bosnian army soldiers besieged.

Karadzic’s trial will continue on November 15.

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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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