Karadzic: Periods of Uncertainty

19. January 2011.00:00
At the trial of Radovan Karadzic, a protected Prosecution witness says that Serb forces sometimes conducted attacks on Sarajevo in response to military operations conducted by Muslim forces in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Witness KDZ-450, former member of UNPROFOR in Sarajevo, said that the orders for shelling and sniping in Sarajevo were given by “a high ranking military officer”, adding that Karadzic could order the attacks “just to prove something”.The witness said that the commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, SRC, was likely not responsible for initiating reactions to events taking place on other battlefields in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I think that that was done by the authorities. General Mladic would probably say: ‘We shall open fire on Sarajevo because they conducted a military operation in some other part of Bosnia’,” the witness said.

Hague indictee Ratko Mladic, who is on the run, was Commander of the Main Headquarters with the Republika Srpska Army during the war in Bosnia.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska and supreme commander of its armed forces, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.

The indictment charges him with a sniping and shelling campaign conducted in Sarajevo with the aim of spreading fear among the civilian population. Thousands of civilians were killed or wounded in the campaign.

The witness said that during the course of his stay in Sarajevo in 1993 and 1994, he noticed that the local population was constantly exposed to individual fire, adding this was done with the “aim of creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and terror”.

“That was a tactical tool deployed by Bosnian Serbs. They wanted to stop the offensives conducted by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, their goals were strategic. By doing it they wanted to force Muslims to accept the division of Bosnia,” he said.

The witness said the situation in Sarajevo during the course of his stay in the city could be divided into three phases. He said the period from October 1993 to February 5, 1994 was very difficult for the population.

“They were exposed to artillery attacks and sniper fire. It was difficult to get humanitarian aid. It was the second winter and people were already exhausted,” witness KDZ-450 said.

He said that this phase was followed by a relatively stable period which began on February 5, when a ban on the use of heavy arms was agreed upon. He said that another period of uncertainty and numerous diplomatic activities began at the end of July 1994.

At the beginning of cross-examination the indictee asked the witness to draw a line between his personal impressions and reliable information he had got, asking him if he had evidence to prove his earlier statement that “Karadzic could order the attacks just to prove something”.

“I said that we, as a work group, drew certain conclusions. The siege of Sarajevo had a goal – putting pressure on Bosnian Muslims leaders,” the witness explained.Karadzic is due to continue examining witness KDZ-450, whose testimony has largely been closed to the public, at the next hearing, scheduled for January 20.M.T.