THE HAGUE | 05.03.2012.

KARADZIC AND MILOVANOVIC SHARE ‘TRUTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS’

In the final part of his cross-examination of General Manojlo Milovanovic, the accused Radovan Karadzic quoted from the witness’s book Truths and Misconceptions about the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He quoted only those parts of the book that corroborated his case, and only those he knew the witness would confirm

As Karadzic cross-examined Manojlo Milovanovic last week, the prosecution witness disagreed with a number of claims the accused Karadzic put to him about the relationship between the Republika Srpska political and military leadership during the war. The witness also disagreed with Karadzic’s interpretations of the guidelines and directives issued by the Supreme Command to the VRS Main Staff. Milovanovic served as the chief of staff and Mladic’s deputy at the time.

The cross-examination today proceeded as a dialogue between two like-minded persons. Karadzic began with Milovanovic’s book Truths and Misconceptions about the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina, quoting parts that fit in with his defense case. He made sure to select only those quotes the witness would confirm, and, indeed, the witness obliged.

The accused and the prosecution witness agreed that the ‘Muslim-Croat’ coalition was responsible for the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnian Serbs were the last to form their own army, whose role was solely defensive. The Bosnian Serb army launched offensives only ‘in response to provocations’ of the other side, the ‘so-called BH Army’, as Milovanovic still calls it. Karadzic and Milovanovic also concurred that the Serb side ‘never terrorized civilians in Sarajevo’ and that the ‘Muslim artillery spent’ more ammunition in the town of Sarajevo and on Mount Igman than the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps. As Milovanovic and Karadzic agreed, the Muslim side was the first to use snipers, as early as on 2 May 1992 in an attack on the 2nd Military District Command in Sarajevo.

As was expected, Karadzic and Milovanovic agreed that the ‘so-called BH Army’ was willing to sacrifice its own people to ‘vilify Serbs’. Milovanovic is ‘sure’ this is what happened in the bread queue in the Vase Miskina Street and at the Markale town market in February 1994. Milovanovic was ‘less sure’ about the Markale II incident, but only because he wasn’t there at the time because he was on the western front.

Last week, Milovanovic spoke about Karadzic’s ‘innermost wish’ to have ‘as few Muslims of military age as possible’ remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today, however, when the accused asked him if he ‘heard of a project to expel Muslims and Croats from the territories with a Serb majority’, Milovanovic strenuously denied it. Quite the contrary, Milovanovic argued, in Sarajevo ‘150,000 Serbs were expelled, more than 10,000 disappeared, and there is evidence that 5,000 to 7,000 were killed’. When Judge Kwon asked Milovanovic who proved it, when and how, the witness did not answer.

Milovanovic agreed with Karadzic that the directives and other documents produced by the Serb side ‘didn’t have a negative impact on the civilians’. In the re-examination, the prosecutor used various documents to prove the opposite was the case. The Directive 4 states that ‘the enemy must be forced to leave the areas of Birac, Zepa and Gorazde together with the Bosnian Muslim population’. The prosecutor contended that as a result, civilians in the Muslim villages in the area were expelled and their houses were burned down.

Prosecutor Nicholls brought up a conversation intercepted on 8 February 1993 in which the Drina Corps commander Milenko Zivanovic asks his subordinate, ‘are the Turkish houses burning’. When the subordinate confirms it, Zivanovic adds, ‘yes, yes, the more, the merrier!’ The prosecutor asked the witness if he, as an officer who served on the VRS Main Staff, thought Zivanovic’s words ‘imply there might be an impact on the civilians’. ‘Yes’, Milovanovic replied tersely.

The trial of former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic for genocide and other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues on Tuesday, 6 March 2012.