THE HAGUE | 01.07.2010.

DID EXTREMISTS ‘CURRY FAVOR’ WITH KARADZIC OR KRAJISNIK?

In his third appearance before the Tribunal, Momcilo Mandic had to correct some of his claims in his previous testimony at the trials of Krajisnik and of Stanisic and Zupljanin. Mandic had earlier said that the extremist members of the SDS ‘curried favor with Karadzic’. Today, he said they actually curried favor with Krajisnik

At the beginning of his testimony at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb justice minister Momcilo Mandic confirmed that his evidence given in the Momcilo Krajisnik case in 2004 was accurate, with some changes he made in May 2010 when he testified as an unwilling prosecution witness at the trial of Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin. For the most part, the changes concerned Stanisic’s position and responsibility as the interior minister in the first Bosnian Serb war government.

As he replied to prosecutor Tieger’s questions, Mandic ended up correcting some parts of his previous testimony at the trial of Stanisic and Zupljanin, when he had said that ‘Karadzic liked to interfere in personnel issues’. Today, Mandic ‘responsibly’ claimed that Karadzic ‘didn’t interfere in order to have specific people appointed to specific posts’ but in order to ‘comply with the agreement’ on the division of power among the SDS, SDA and HDZ.

The prosecutor then played a number of recorded intercepted telephone conversations from 1991. Talking to Mandic, Karadzic demanded forcefully that ‘the SDS people’ be appointed to the key posts in the police in Prijedor, Drvar and Srebrenica, and to replace those who were not ‘our people’. As Mandic explained, he didn’t see it as ‘interfering in the personnel policy’ of the MUP, but simply the result of the pressure local party leaders put on Karadzic who only ‘conveyed their suggestions’ to him.

At the Stanisic and Zupljanin trial, the prosecutor quoted from Vojo Kupresanin’s speech in the Assembly in which Kupresanin called Muslims and Croats ‘natural enemies’, saying it was impossible to live and work together with them ‘ever again’. Mandic told the prosecutor, ‘I’ve been listening to such Serb blathering from early 1990’s to this day’. People ‘curried favor with Karadzic and the SDS leadership,’ Mandic said at the Stanisic and Zupljanin trial.

Today Mandic corrected himself, saying they in fact ‘curried favor with Krajisnik’ and that extremist opinions were expounded by ‘right-wingers and nationalists’ of the kind that existed in all parliaments. Karadzic said that ‘extremist opinions are a matter of freedom’. By ‘putting together words uttered casually by the free people who have their opinions’, the prosecution is trying to build an opinion of him in the courtroom, Karadzic said.

Noting that Karadzic worked with Kupresanin, the prosecutor played an intercepted conversation between Karadzic and Kupresanin on 23 July 1991. Criticizing Kupresanin for taking premature action to unify the two Krajinas, Karadzic said: ‘This will be Vojo, but they must be blamed for that’. Karadzic warned Kupresanin to wait for the Muslims to violate the Constitution first. ‘Even Milan Babic didn’t set up the SAO Krajina before Croatia changed its Constitution and violated its obligation towards Serbs’, Karadzic cautioned Kupresanin.

The prosecutor showed a recording of the speeches Vojo Kupresanin, Radoslav Brdjanin, Momcilo Krajisnik and Radovan Karadzic made at a rally in Banja Luka on 21 August 1994. Kupresanin said that Bosnia was ‘the eternal Serb land’ inhabited ‘only by the Serbs of Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim faith’. In his address, Brdjanin said ‘the Serbs have an obligation to spend the next hundred years cleaning their shoes of the heathen non-Christians who have contaminated this land of ours’.

When he stood up to speak Krajisnik said it was ‘a great pleasure’ for him to be there and to see ‘the fruit of the homeland struggle’ after hearing ‘the wonderful words’ of those who had spoken before him. All this would be Serbia one day, Krajisnik promised. Finally, Karadzic addressed the rally, saying that ‘the uprising to restore the Serb state started by Karadjordje 200 years before continues’.

The footage of the rally shows that those were not ‘isolated extremists expressing fringe opinions’, but people ‘who had ties with Karadzic and the rest of the Bosnian Serb leadership and enjoyed their support'.

Momcilo Mandic continues his evidence on Monday, 5 July 2010.