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Karadzic: Division of Police as Trigger for War

14. February 2013.00:00
Testifying in defence of Radovan Karadzic, former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Vitomir Zepinic says that, on the eve of the war the indictee advocated for separation of Serbs from Bosniaks and Croats, but he referred to “political and cultural”, not “physical” separation.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Zepinic said that he had never thought that Karadzic was advocating for the deportation of Bosniaks and Croats. He pointed out that, knowing Karadzic’s personality, he did not believe that he wanted it.

As he said, while working as Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zepinic had multiple problems with the late Alija Izetbegovic, the then President of the Bosnian Presidency, who was surrounded by “extreme nationalists”.

According to the witness, due to his presidential role Izetbegovic had “the biggest responsibility” for the breakout of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with having committed the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanently and forcibly removing them from the territories claimed by Bosnian Serbs leaders. Also, he is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.

Zepinic said that Ramiz Delalic, known as Celo, told police inspectors that the murder of Serb wedding guest Nikola Gardovic in Bascarsiji, which he committed on March 1, 1992, was ordered by Izetbegovic, whose intention was to provoke conflict with Serbs. According to Zepinic, Delalic’s release from prison, which happened soon, confirmed this allegation.

According to Zepinic, Karadzic had nothing to do with the arrival of paramilitary units led by Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan, in Bijeljina in late March 1992 or the crimes that were committed in that area.

While being cross-examined by Prosecutor Alan Tieger, Zepinic confirmed that he objected to the division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, MUP of Bosnia and Herzegovina on ethnic grounds, which was advocated for by Karadzic and other Serbian Democratic Party, SDS leaders.

“The division of MUP of BiH on ethnic grounds was a barrel of gunpowder or trigger for the war in my country,” the witness said.

Confirming that Karadzic said that Serbs could no longer live with Bosniaks and Croats, Zepinic pointed out that he “did not get an impression that Karadzic referred to the physical liquidation of non-Serbs”, but that “the extremism of nationalistic parties led to a situation where living together became impossible”.

Zepinic said that he resigned on April 4, 1992, after having received an official letter, in which Momcilo Mandic, former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ordered the establishment of a Serbian MUP.

The witness said that future Minister of Internal Affairs Mico Stanisic, who is currently on trial at The Hague, pointed a revolver at him after he had told him and Mandic, in presence of Karadzic, that they would be responsible for the war, “because the MUP cannot be divided in a peaceful manner”.

Confirming that Karadzic called him “an idiot”, because he believed in living together, Zepinic said: “I admit I am an idiot, because I had not eliminated them before that”.

The trial of Karadzic is due to continue on Thursday, February 14.

This post is also available in: Bosnian