American Serb Robert Bob Djurdjevic has testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic. The former Republika Srpska president told Djurdjevic at a meeting in Pale on 14 July 1995 that the attacks on Srebrenica and Zepa were the result of his ‘Order No. 7’. Karadzic added that the Bosnian Serbs wanted to ‘raise the temperature to the boiling point’. Former Mladic’s assistant Petar Skrbic began his testimony
The trial of Radovan Karadzic continued with the evidence of Robert Djurdjevic, who emigrated to the USA in 1970. He met several times with various political and military leaders from Serbia and Republika Srpska during the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Djurdjevic took notes at the meetings and wrote them down in his diary entitled War on Ice. Later Djurdjevic used his notes to write articles he published in the Western media and on his website, Truth in Media. Djurdjevic’s diary and the transcript of his interview with the OTP investigators from 2002 were today admitted into evidence in the Radovan Karadzic case.
Djurdjevic met Karadzic in Karadzic’s office in Pale in the afternoon of 14 July 1995, when the VRS Srebrenica operation was in full swing. Immediately before seeing Djurdjevic, Karadzic met with his commissioner for Srebrenica, Miroslav Deronjic, and other members of the Srebrenica delegation. During most of his meeting with Djurdjevic, Karadzic watched news reports of Sky News and CNN about Srebrenica. Karadzic told the witness that the attacks on Srebrenica and Zepa were a result of his ‘Order No. 7’, adding that their objective was to ‘raise the temperature to the boiling point’. Karadzic’s biggest concern was the possible intervention of the Croatian Army in Krajina. During the meeting, Karadzic received a phone call from a military commander who told him that the Muslims were trying to cross the road near Konjevic Polje in a bid to reach Tuzla.
In a brief examination-in chief, prosecutor Tieger brought up some other meetings Djurdjevic had, including his encounter with the former chief of the VJ General Staff, Momcilo Perisic. General Perisic told the witness that the sanctions Yugoslavia had imposed on Republika Srpska had not affected the support to the Bosnian Serb forces. Perisic didn’t want to go into details, but promised to share them with the witness after the war.
In the cross-examination, Karadzic put it to the witness that he mentioned the ‘Order No. 7’ in the context of the disagreement between the military and civilian structures in Republika Srpska. When he said that the situation should be brought to the boiling point, Karadzic meant that Republika Srpska wanted to end the war. ‘Prolonging the war’ didn’t suit Republika Srpska’s ends, because it was under a sanctions regime, Karadzic said. He also noted that he and Slobodan Milosevic were ‘bitter enemies’ and that Koljevic was ‘humane and harmless’ and ‘particularly sensitive to Muslims and Croats and their humanitarian needs’.
In his replies to Karadzic, Djurdjevic said that he was supposed to travel to Srebrenica from Pale with Nikola Koljevic. The purpose of Koljevic’s trip was ostensibly to tell the residents of Srebrenica that they ‘have nothing to fear’ and that ‘the Serb authorities would treat them as if they were Serb civilians’. The plan failed because during the meeting on 14 July 1995, the news reached Karadzic’s office that there were no more civilians in Srebrenica.
After Robert Djurdjevic completed the evidence, the prosecution called its next witness, General Petar Skrbic, who had served in the VRS Main Staff. At the beginning of the examination-in chief, the transcript of Skrbic’s testimony at the trial of seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers charged with crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa was admitted into evidence. At that trial, Skrbic testified about the structure and organization of the VRS Main Staff. Skrbic also described how in the evening of 11 July 1995 he received an order from Ratko Mladic to obtain the buses that were sent the next day to Bratunac.
Petar Skrbic will continue his evidence on Wednesday, 8 March 2012.