News 06 Jul 10

Karadzic Trial: Witness Points to Biljana Plavsic

Momcilo Mandic has testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic that Biljana Plavsic, a top wartime Bosnian Serb leader, had in some respects greater authority than the former Bosnian Serb president Karadzic.

Denis Dzidic

Mandic, the former justice minister of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Plavsic was responsible for inviting paramilitary groups from Serbia to come to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He said they came to help “the Serbian people in their historic fight in Bosnia and Herzegovina ”.

“When there was nothing more to take away from non-Serbs, the group would rob Serbs. Police Minister Mico Stanisic wanted to put an end to this. I wanted the same,” Mandic said.

Radovan Karadzic is charged before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, with participation in a joint criminal enterprise in collaboration with Bosnian Serb leaders and leaders of Serbian paramilitary forces and volunteer units from Serbia.

Prosecutors allege they shared a joint goal of permanently removing Bosnian Muslims and Croats from the parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed by Bosnian Serbs.  

Plavsic, the former president of Republika Srpska, was sentenced by the ICTY in 2003 to 11 years in prison for participation in the persecution of the non-Serbian population. Stanisic is currently on trial for participating in persecutions based on political, racial and religious affiliation. Both are mentioned in the indictment against Karadzic as participants in the joint criminal enterprise.  

Mandic said that most paramilitary members were criminals, adding he therefore thought that by inviting those units Plavsic “violated justice and Republika Srpska legislation”.  

“Biljana should have been dismissed and arrested. Had this been done, there would have been fewer people at The Hague now. Legalists should have been given an opportunity, instead of giving it to those who advocated for Serbs’ unity. (...) Plavsic is not a nationalist but an evil person who did that for personal reasons,” Mandic said.  

Mandic also testified that the RS government received information about a large number of captured civilians and prisoners of war who were “not treated in line with the Geneva Convention on Human Rights Protection” in 1992.  

“We received information from the field about individual cases of inhumane treatment of prisoners, both civilians and prisoners of war. In an attempt to establish a legal state, the government decided to form a commission. Its goal was to send some people to the field. Those people were supposed to check what was going on and inform the government and presidency so the situation could be improved and further violations of human rights avoided,” he said.  

Karadzic is charged with the detention of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats in various buildings in which living conditions were such that they led to the physical destruction of those detained. This was done by cruel and inhumane treatment, which included torture and physical and mental abuse.

Mandic is to continue his testimony on July 6.

 

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