News 01 Jun 10

Six Strategic Goals of Bosnian Serbs

Robert Donia, an American historian, has begun testifying in the ninth week of the trial of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader.

Two years ago, Donia, a specialist in the history of South East Europe, with expertise in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslavia, submitted a report at the request of the Prosecution, on the Strategic Goals of Bosnian Serbs during the war.

Radovan Karadzic, who was the Bosnian Serb leader during the war, is indicted for war crimes, including genocide, committed from 1992 to 1995.

According to the Prosecution, Strategic Goals were adopted by the Parliament of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 12 May, 1992 to define the aims they would fight for.

The goals included: separation of ethnic communities in the country, establishment of the borders of "the Serb people's territories", between the Drina, Una and Neretva rivers, erasing the Drina river as the border between the Serb part of Bosnia and neighboring Serbia.

One of the goals was the division of Sarajevo.

Donia argues that the Bosnian Serbs stated these goals even before they were officially adopted by the Parliament, in speeches given by Karadzic and other Bosnian Serb officials.

The witness also explained that Bosnia and Herzegovina before the war was divided in 109 municipalities, and that these divisions were not made along ethnic lines.

"Mostly, divisions were done according to economic units," Donia said.

However, in the summer 1990 election campaign, Serb and Croat nationalists used these divisions to claim the inequality of one group over another, he said.

"For Serb nationalists, these claims were becoming part of their nationalist program," Donia said, adding that it is almost impossible to say which ethnic group was in a majority in any part of Bosnia "especially Sarajevo".

Radovan Karadzic requested 30 hours to question this witness. If this is granted by the trial chamber, Donia's testimony may last two weeks.

Before the start of Donia's testimony, Karadzic finished cross-examining Sky News war correspondent Arnout Van Lynden, during which Karadzic repeated accusations about biased reporting by international media during the war in Bosnia.

At the end of his questioning, Karadzic asked Van Lynden for his opinion on the claim that the international media portrayed Serbs in a more negative context then they deserved during the war.

"You are asking for my impression, Mr Karadzic, even though you previously said that you do not want to hear that? I think that Serbs are the only ones to be considered responsible for the image they got in western media who reported about Bosnia," Van Lynden said.

At the end of his testimony, Van Lynden expressed concern for witness rights in war-crimes cases, saying that he knows that some witnesses at this trial have come and have been sent back home more than once before giving testimony and that this can be viewed as unjust, bearing in mind the pressures to which witnesses are exposed.

The next hearing is scheduled for 1 June.

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