Former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, jailed for genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, said he wasn’t well enough to testify at his former leader's trial.
At Karadzic’s request, the Hague Tribunal issued a warrant ordering Krstic to testify after he had refused to do so voluntarily.
Krstic, who had been serving his war crimes sentence in Britain but was returned to the Netherlands after his neck was slashed in a revenge attack by three Muslim inmates at a high-security prison in 2010, appeared in court this week but wouldn’t the oath.
“Regardless of the fact that the request is legally grounded, I consider it irrational and inhuman and it represents an act of violence,” Krstic said.
“With due esteem and respect to the Tribunal’s decision, I stick to my stand that I am not capable of testifying at this trial due to health reasons only,” he said.
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Krstic, the wartime commander of the Bosnian Army’s Drina Corps, to 35 years in prison in 2004 for his role in the Srebrenica massacres.
Former Bosnian Serb leader and supreme commander Karadzic is being tried for crimes against civilians during the siege of Sarajevo, genocide in Srebrenica, persecution of Bosniaks and Croats and taking UN soldiers hostage during the 1990s conflict.
Saying that he respected what Krstic had lived through, Karadzic insisted however that he still needed to ask him “just a few questions” about Srebrenica because he did not have a replacement witness.
The judges ordered that Krstic should undergo examinations by March 8 in order to determine whether he was capable of testifying.
An American publicist of Serbian origin, Srdja Trifkovic, testified in Karadzic’s defence this week, saying that he found it “hard for me to believe that Karadzic could approve the shooting of captives”.
Trifkovic said that he visited Karadzic in his Bosnian stronghold of Pale in July 1995 and overheard a phone call during which Karadzic was “informed about Srebrenica”. According to the witness, Karadzic “insisted that civilians should not be mistreated”.
During cross-examination, Hague prosecutor Kweku Vanderpuye claimed that Trifkovic was the Bosnian Serb leadership’s “spokesperson” but the witness denied that, saying that he appeared in international media as “an analyst of the situation in the Balkans with close connections with Bosnian Serb leaders”.
The prosecutor questioned the credibility of the witness by suggesting that he was publicly accused of “denying genocide” in Srebrenica. Trifkovic confirmed the allegation.
Karadzic’s trial also heard from former member of the Bosnian state security service Edin Garaplija, who claimed that the Bosnian government committed crimes that were blamed on the Serb side during the war.
Testifying under warrant after initially refusing to speak in Karadzic’s defence, Garaplija said that a French soldier serving with the UN protection force in Bosnia who was allegedly murdered by Serbs in 1995 had actually been killed by the Seve unit, which was part of the state security service.
According to Garaplija’s testimony, Seve members committed also attempted to assassinate Bosnian general Sefer Halilovic, murdered Serb civilians in the Sarajevo district of Grbavica and shot captured Serb soldiers in a park in the Bosnian capital.
Karadzic’s trial will resume next week.
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.