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Journalists behind Wire – Prisoners Free

13. November 2013.00:00
Former President of the Republika Srpska Parliament Momcilo Krajisnik testifies at Radovan Karadzic’s trial and denies that Serb forces committed ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

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Krajisnik said that the non-Serb population left “only voluntarily, in an organised manner, under escort”, as per an agreement between the RS authorities and Red Cross, “for the sake of their protection”, adding that “it was not ethnic cleansing”.

The Tribunal sentenced Krajisnik, under a second instance verdict, to 20 years in prison for forced resettlement, deportation and, partially, the persecution of Muslims and Croats during the Bosnian war. After having served two-thirds of his sentence, Krajisnik was released to liberty on August 31.

Karadzic, wartime President and supreme Commander of the RS armed forces, is also charged with the persecution of the non-Serb population throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities.

Krajisnik denied the accusations that he and the RS President had an inviolable authority.

“Not even kings in the past had such authority as attributed to me and Karadzic here… Mr. Karadzic did not have such authority,” Krajisnik said.

The prosecutors are due to cross-examine Krajisnik next week.

Slavko Puhalic, former quartermaster officer at Trnopolje detention camp, testified in defence of the indictee at this hearing. He said that it was an open centre to which non-Serb civilians came voluntarily from combat activity zones for the sake of their safety. They stayed “until the conditions for their departure were met.”

According to the witness’ testimony, except for a few incidents, no crimes or mistreatment of the Muslim population happened in that centre.

Playing a recording which Britain’s ITN filmed in Trnopolje, Puhalic confirmed, as per Karadzic’s suggestion, that the journalists were actually surrounded with barbed wire.

Muslims were “outside the wire, the camp was not surrounded with barbed wire… People were outside the wire, while journalists were behind the wire fence,” the witness said.
Karadzic suggested that the skinniest man on the recording, who evoked sharp reactions from the world’s public, could not have lost so much weight while in Trnopolje.

“I do not know exactly whether he lost weight in the detention camp or before having been brought to it. He could not have lost so much weight in such a short time. I do not know,” Puhalic said.

During the cross-examination Prosecutor Ann Sutherland played an ITN recording made from a different angle. Puhalic confirmed that the recording depicted barbed wire in front of the Muslim men in Trnopolje.

The Prosecutor then presented the witness with evidence about four multiple murders in Trnopolje in June and July 1992. Puhalic confirmed that he “knew about two or three cases, where people were killed, and a few beatings”. He specified that he spent only 24 days in the detention camp.

Responding to an allegation by the Prosecutor that Muslims did not come to Trnopolje voluntarily, but Serb forces brought them forcibly, the witness said that he saw that they came by cars, trucks and tractors, but he did not see that they were brought in an organised manner by buses.

Karadzic is due to present his next witness tomorrow, November 14.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian