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Karadzic: Destruction of Mosques and Catholic Churches

9. December 2011.00:00
Andras Riedlmayer, expert for destroyed Bosnian religious and cultural heritage, says during the trial of Radovan Karadzic that most of the mosques and Catholic churches on Serb territories in Bosnia and Herzegovina were destroyed and damaged.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Testifying before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, Riedlmayer said that, after the war he did “not see any mosques or Catholic churches, which were not damaged”, on the territories controlled by Serbs.

According to Riedlmayer, 226 out of 239, or 95 percent of the mosques he visited in 23 municipalities were either destroyed or severely damaged. In addition, 74 percent of Catholic churches were either completely or partially destroyed. Prosecution expert Riedlmayer specified that this happened “on the territories occupied by Bosnian Serb forces”.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide against Bosniaks and Croats in seven municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and persecution of the non-Serbian population all over Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from 1992 to 1995. Karadzic is charged with committing genocide in Srebrenica, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo by long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking UN soldiers hostages.

Riedlmayer supported his expert report with photographs of mosques and churches before and after the war, which were shown in the courtroom. He said that the oldest mosques, like the ones in Foca and near Zvornik, were specially targeted.

Riedlmayer said that, following the destruction of those mosques, Bosnian Serb authorities turned the locations into “parking lots, flea markets and dumps”.

During the cross-examination Karadzic, who is representing himself at this trial, indicated that the destruction of mosques and Catholic churches was neither ordered by Bosnian Serbs authorities nor planned.

Riedlmayer said again that religious buildings were destroyed on the territories controlled by Serbs, adding that the authorities provided machinery for cleaning the locations after the destruction.

Karadzic said that Bosniak forces “misused mosques” for military purposes, opened fire from minarets and kept explosive in mosques. Riedlmayer responded by saying that he did not find evidence about it in the field.

The indictee asked the expert if he knew about his orders to prevent and sanction the attacks on religious buildings. Riedlmayer said that he was not aware of such an order.

“I wonder to what extent your orders were efficient,” Riedlmayer said. “I wonder too,” Karadzic said.

Karadzic denied the credibility of the Hague Prosecution expert, saying that he was “setting the foundation for convicting Serbs” and that he was “anti-Serb oriented and biased”.

Riedlmayer denied his allegations, saying that his past political stands, which Karadzic cited, like advocating for abolition of an embargo on delivery of weapons to Bosniaks during the war, did not prevent him from testifying in an impartial manner.

Chairing judge O-Gon Kwon said that the trial of Karadzic would continue on January 10, 2012, following the end of winter break. R.M.

This post is also available in: Bosnian