Karajic: Admissions of Guilt by “Volunteer and Freewheeling Soldier”

13. January 2010.00:00
The trial of Suljo Karajic, which has lasted for more than 20 months, is due to be completed with the presentation of closing arguments by the State Prosecution and Defence beginning on January 14, 2010.

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After presenting evidence for one year, the Defence of Suljo Karajic completed the process in November 2009. It examined around fifteen of Karajic’s former comrades as well as the indictee. During his testimony Karajic admitted some of the crimes of which he is charged.

Suljo Karajic, also known as Hodza, former Commander of the Second Military Police Squad with the 505th Motorized Cavalry Brigade of the Fifth Corps of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH, is charged with crimes committed against prisoners-of-war and civilians in the Bihac district from August 1994 to February 1995.

The crimes are alleged to have been committed during the conflict between the ABiH and the National Defence of the Western Bosnia Autonomous Region, ND WBAR.

The Western Bosnia Autonomous Region, WBAR, was a territorial administration unit formed in September 1993 by Fikret Abdic, a former member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Region, which existed until 1995, consisted of parts of Velika Kladusa and Cazin municipalities. Abdic was sentenced by a court in Croatia to 15 years in prison for crimes committed in this area.

During the five hearings at which he testified, Karajic admitted guilt in three of the ten counts in the indictment.

He described the way in which he killed Amir Karajic, known as Kolac, in front of the Radoc motel in Buzim, where ND WBAR members were detained, in August 1994. The State Prosecution charged him with this crime in the first count of the indictment.

“Kolac contacted me via walkie-talkie while I was on the frontline. He described the way in which I had been wounded. At that moment I realized he had wounded me. When I heard he was being held in the detention unit in Buzim, I went there to see him. I did not have the intention of killing him. My intention was to enjoy seeing him humiliated and helpless. When I saw him, he said: ‘Hello there, you freak…’ I do not remember anything else. I do not remember how I raised my rifle and shot,” Karajic said.

The indictee claims he was “not aware of his actions” at that moment. For this reason, the Defence examined expert witness Zaim Bilalbegovic, a psychiatrist, who said Karajic was in a state of extremely high sensitivity and “reduced sanity”.

“The indictee was not able to think about the way in which he was going to respond to the provocation. His capacity to understand and manage his actions was reduced,” Bilalbegovic said.

Karajic told the Court that he beat up protected witness D in Todorovo village in December 1994 because she refused to offer medical assistance to an ABiH soldier.

“I met a wounded man, who started crying because Doctor D refused to dress his wound. We went to the doctor together. She said we should leave the building because it was a civilian clinic and it was not her job to do that. I became very upset and I lost control of my actions. I grabbed the first thing I saw, it was a broomstick actually, and I started beating her,” Karajic said.

During the course of his testimony Karajic confirmed the Prosecution’s allegations that he attacked the Commander of the Civil Protection Municipal Headquarters in Murtici village, Velika Kladusa municipality, in February 1995. The indictee said he did this because the Commander answered his questions concerning procurement of material and technical supplies needed for defence in “an arrogant manner”.

“I had a total blackout. I was not able to control myself. I hit him a few times with a wooden bar,” Karajic said.

During his testimony the indictee denied the remaining seven counts, claiming that they contained “lies” imputed to him “after the murder of Kolac”.

The indictment alleges that, on December 6, 1994 Karajic, who was accompanied by his subordinates, members of the Military Police Squad, took Mujo Pehlic from the Detention Unit in the Police Station in Vrnograc and killed him. The indictee said he did not know Pehlic, adding that he had never been in Vrnograc.His statement was

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian