THE HAGUE | 06.02.2013.

'PSYCHOSIS’ IN COURT

American Serb Srdja Trifkovic tried to convince the Trial Chamber that the accused Radovan Karadzic didn’t have contacts with Ratko Mladic on 13 July 1995 as the operation in Srebrenica unfolded. The prosecutor argued he was biased because he used to be the spokesman of the Bosnian Serb leadership. As an ‘analyst’ he was obsessed with Islam, the prosecutor insisted: Trifkovic labeled that religion a ‘psychosis’ and called for the deportation of Muslims from Western countries

Defense witness Srdja Trifkovic that introduced himself as an analyst of the Balkans affairs, said that he found it ‘difficult to believe’ that Radovan Karadzic would ‘forgive the executions’ of Muslims men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. In his statement to the defense and in his evidence, Trifkovic tried to convince the Trial Chamber that Karadzic didn’t have contacts with Ratko Mladic in the course of the VRS operation in Srebrenica and that the telephone lines between Pale and the VRS Main Staff were often disrupted.

The accused read out the summary of the witness’s statement in court. From 1993 to the end of the war in BH, the witness visited Pale several times. One of his visits in July 1995 coincided with the VRS Srebrenica operation. As Trifkovic recounted, at the meeting on 13 July 1995 he thought Karadzic would phone Mladic. Trifkovic was hoping that he would have the chance to speak with Mladic and obtain a statement from him that he could use in his articles and appearances in the Western media. The communications with the VRS Main Staff was established after several attempts. The man on the other side wasn’t Mladic but some other officer. The witness contends that the accused ordered the unknown officer ‘not to abuse’ civilians and that Serbs in Srebrenica should ‘behave properly’.

Two other American Serbs, Tomislav Premovic and Slavica Ristic, attended the meeting with Karadzic on 13 July 1995. In the spring of 2012, Premovic and Ristic gave a different account of events in court. They claimed that they heard Mladic over the speakerphone reporting to Karadzic that Srebrenica was ‘finished’ and that Zepa was next. Premovic and Ristic also said that Karadzic and Mladic talked about ‘military issues and the promotion of a VRS general’. When prosecutor Vanderpuye confronted Trifkovic with their evidence, he claimed that Premovic only ‘got an impression’ that Karadzic was speaking to Mladic.

In a bid to show the witness was biased, the prosecutor said that from 1993 Trifkovic served as the spokesman for Karadzic’s leadership, communicating their views to the foreign media. Trifkovic said he was ‘misrepresented’ in the public; he saw himself as a ‘journalist and analyst’ who obtained information from the Bosnian Serb top political brass.

The witness’s obsession with Islam is, in the prosecutor’s view, another issue important for the evaluation of his credibility and potential bias. A series of Trifkovic’s texts as well as audio and video recordings of his public appearances were shown in court. In them Trifkovic labeled Islam a ‘psychosis’ and called for the introduction of measures that would not only prevent Muslims from moving to Western countries but would result in their deportation to their countries of origin. Trifkovic said that his words were taken out of context but didn’t deny or ‘contextualize’ them.

Srdja Trifkovic is the director of the Center for International Affairs at the Rockford Institute, and has been portrayed in public as ‘paleo-conservative’ and racist.