Karadzic Cross-Examines Harland

www.slobodan-milosevic.org - June 15, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing Date: May 7, 2010


On Friday, May 7th Radovan Karadzic began his cross-examination of Mr. David J. Harland. Mr. Harland worked for the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1993 until 1999.  From May 1993 to January 1995, he was a civil affairs officer with the UNPROFOR BH Command.  From January to August 1995, he served as the head of Civil Affairs for Sector Sarajevo.  In August 1995, he was deployed back to BH Command, where he worked as the political adviser to the UNPROFOR BH commander, General Rupert Smith. During his tenure in Bosnia, Harland frequently met with military and civilian leaders from the opposing sides of the conflict. Harland met with everyone from low level officials to senior figures like Radovan Karadzic and Alija Izetbegovic.




Karadzic began the cross-examination by asking Harland to describe the UN Protection Force’s (UNPROFOR) mandate in Bosnia. Harland said, “UNPROFOR was a peacekeeping mission” with a “large and complicated” mandate. He said that it operated pursuant to UN Security Council Resolutions: 713, 770, 776, 817/819, 824, and 836.


The witness described his own role saying, “My little role was to try and be the political eyes and ears for the UNPROFOR leadership in Sarajevo” adding that “the heart of my work was on the political side.”


He said, “The UN is a difficult operating environment.  It's not full, always, of like-minded people. There was a sort of negotiation, I think you can say that, sometimes about how to characterize certain events.”  He said, “I should say there was, in fact, sometimes a discernibly different approach from UNPROFOR units of different nationalities, depending on the way in which that country generally saw the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”


The UN’s Convoluted Safe Area Policy


Harland described the establishment of the UN Safe Areas (such as Srebrenica and Zepa) in the following way. He said that the Safe Areas were a “concept from which the Security Council demanded that the Serbs withdraw their forces, but did not demand that the Bosniaks demilitarize or withdraw their forces.  Now, I don't claim that this was a very intellectually coherent mandate.  It was full of problems.”


Karadzic showed Harland a document (exhibit D135) entitled “An agreement on the demilitarized zones of Srebrenica and Zepa,” signed by General Morillon, General Mladic, and General Halilovic on the 8th of May, 1993, and then he asked the witness “Tell us, please, why didn’t UNPROFOR demilitarize those zones?”


Harland answered saying, “Our view was whether or not they [the Serbs and Muslims] made or honored an agreement between themselves, we had a mandate flowing from the Security Council. To be absolutely frank, we were not happy with the mandate from the Security Council.” 


Karadzic asked “Do you agree with me that [UNPROFOR] should have thwarted attacks against Serb civilians from the areas under your protection?”


Harland reiterated his earlier answer saying, “The mandate from the Security Council, like it or not, was to designate six Bosnian government, Bosniak-majority areas as safe areas that would be safe from attack by your forces.” He said, “The Security Council mandate did not ask of UNPROFOR the sort of equivalence that you are referring to.”


Karadzic showed Harland a document (exhibit D136) issued by the 2nd Corps of the ABiH and dated June 27, 1995 – just two weeks before the Bosnian-Serbs attacked Srebrenica.


The document says, “In the morning hours of 26 June 1995, our forces attacked from the Srebrenica sector and set fire to the village of Visnjica.  According to as yet unconfirmed intelligence, the Chetniks suffered casualties among the civilian population.”


After reading out the document Karadzic asked the witness, “Which ethnic community and which army would have tolerated any such thing, despite any resolutions of the United Nations?  Do you agree with me that we were fully in our right not to tolerate that?”


Harland answered saying, “Well, I certainly agree with you that this appears to be a violation of the agreement you referred to, yes.”


Villains and Victims on All Sides


Harland testified that he saw “evidences of forced evictions by the different communities in different parts of Bosnia.”


Harland testified of Serbian crimes against Muslims. He said, “As I moved around the country, whether in the Drina Valley or in the Prijedor area, you would come across large areas where there would be blown-up mosques and blown-up houses … My experience, as I drove around Eastern Bosnia, was of the total destruction of villages which had previously been predominantly inhabited by Bosniaks.”


The Muslims, however, weren’t innocent. Harland readily admitted that he “saw destroyed churches during my time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both Catholic churches and Orthodox Christian churches in Central Bosnia and also near Mostar.” And he pointed-out that “It’s true, when you asked me if I could name a Serb village in Bosnian-government-held territory that had not been ethnically cleansed or which continued to live happily during that period, I could not name one.”


Karadzic asked him, “Did you see Serb villages in the Drina Valley that had been burned?” and Harland said, “Outside of Srebrenica, I had occasion once to visit a tiny community called Kravica.  I think it was predominantly Serb before the war.  And in that community, that place, there was evidence of violence against the village and the community, which presumably happened by Bosnian government forces.” He said, “I am aware that in the period prior to my arrival, there had been substantial operations from Bosnian government forces and that civilians -- Serb civilians had been killed.”


Karadzic asked him if he knew that “Kravica [was] attacked on Christmas Day out of the blue, without any necessity whatsoever?” and Harland replied “It was just before I arrived, but that was the report that I received from my colleagues, yes.”


UNPROFOR Only Threatened the Serbs with NATO Air Strikes


In spite of crimes and civilian suffering on all sides of the conflict, UNPROFOR only threatened to use force against one party: the Bosnian-Serbs.


Karadzic asked Harland whether “UNPROFOR or NATO ever issued any threats or carried them out because of crimes committed against Serb villages and Serb civilians?”


Harland replied saying “In general, the threats made by UNPROFOR to use NATO air attacks were overwhelmingly directed at the Serbs.” He said, “When General Rose considered seriously the use of air attacks against the Bosnian government when it committed certain violations, I think he found that it was not politically possible to proceed.”


Karadzic showed Harland his testimony from a previous trial where he had said that the Muslims violated UN-mandated ceasefire agreements hundreds of times -- 318 times between February 2nd and April 27th 1994 alone. And then he asked the witness, “Do you agree that these numerous violations were not followed by threats against the Muslim side by UNPROFOR, let alone NATO?  Do you agree that they were absolutely spared of that kind of pressure?”


Harland answered saying, “Yes, UNPROFOR's threats were principally directed at the Bosnian Serbs, though I must say General Rose had a very frank and direct relation with the Bosnian government authorities, too, particularly Dr. Ganic, but it never or very rarely -- very rarely reached the level of direct threats of military strikes which we did use against the Serbs.”


Did UNPROFOR Have A Mandate To Order Air Strikes in the First Place?


Karadzic asked Harland, “Do you agree that the Security Council gave explicit authority to UNPROFOR to call NATO in for close air support when the UNPROFOR forces are under threat?  As for the strategic bombing of the Serbs and in order to change the picture on the ground, the Security Council never actually gave explicit permission for that did they?”


Harland responded by saying, “I would say that clarity is not the greatest of the Security Council's virtues. But in the end we came to the conclusion that the killing and the suffering of the war could not be ended unless we used our mandate to its maximum extent, and, therefore, UNPROFOR quietly prepared the ground in 1995, without telling anybody, for very wide-scale use of air and artillery attacks.” He said, “If we had gone to the Security Council, in advance of the operation we launched on the night of the 29th and 30th of August, and had explicitly asked for their legal imprimatur in advance, I don't know.  Perhaps you are correct.”


In any event, the well known massacre at the Markale Market was the event that precipitated the pre-planned NATO bombing campaign. Harland said, “If anything happened that would indicate that the Serb side was not respecting our absolute insistence that the civilian population be protected, that instead of simply having a threat, we would implement -- we would initiate those attacks from the air and from the artillery.  And what I indicated yesterday was that the Markale massacre had not been foreseen by anybody, but was certainly such an attack as would trigger not just a threat, but the actual implementation of widespread attacks against the Serb forces by the UNPROFOR artillery, the Rapid Reaction Force, and by NATO.”


Propaganda and Deception: Srebrenica and Sarajevo


Harland described Bosnia as a “shadow land” of cheating and deceit where “things were not always the way they seemed.”


The witness testified that the Muslims “openly stated that they wanted direct military support from the West.”


Harland testified that Alija Izetbegovic told him that “he did not want the civilian populations of, for example, Sarajevo or Srebrenica to be able to leave.” He said, “President Izetbegovic was very clear that he would not give permission to the civilian population to leave, even if they wanted to escape from areas of danger.”


Harland described Izetbegovic’s view on Srebrenica saying, “It was the position of President Izetbegovic that the civilian population should stay in Srebrenica even though there had been trucks organized between UNHCR and the local authorities to evacuate them … [He] told UNHCR that he would not accept the evacuation of civilians from Srebrenica at a time when there was great difficulty in Srebrenica.  And when I asked him about that, he said that it would be giving in to ethnic cleansing, so it would be giving [away] that territory which previously had a Bosniak majority.”


The same scenario held true in Sarajevo. Harland testified, “If you wanted to leave the city, you needed to get some sort of formal document from both the Bosnian Army and from the civilian authorities. If you tried to leave the city without this, you could be in grave danger.” He said, “My experience was they didn't allow any civilians to leave, except in exceptional circumstances.”


Harland did not disagree with Karadzic’s proposition that Izetbegovic “Wanted [the civilian population] to be victimized, in order to secure emotional support and military support from the West.”


Harland responded to Karadzic’s proposition saying, “I wasn't sure that it was useful to speculate as to people’s deeper motivations. There was certainly people who believed that the West, NATO, would not intervene unless they saw the situation as being particularly dire but there were certainly those who believed that, among other things, having the civilian population basically present on the battle-field would make it more likely that Western nations would be shocked into wanting to intervene militarily.”


Harland confirmed Karadzic’s claim that the Muslim regime took steps to exacerbate the suffering of the civilian population in Sarajevo. He said, “I am aware that there were cases when they were shooting at the insulators on the electrical lines from the Bosnian side of the line.” in order to cut-off power to the civilian population in Sarajevo. And he said, “I remember [Fred Cuny] was very involved in trying to increase the flow of water at Lapisnica [to the civilian population in Sarajevo], and there were a lot of obstacles he encountered from the government side.”


Karadzic read out excerpts from Harland’s earlier testimony in the Milosevic trial. There Harland had testified that “The Serb strategy of shelling [Sarajevo] was often in response. By launching an attack, the Bosniaks precipitated responses that were not necessarily against those fighting but also against the civilian population.” He said, “it was particularly common in Sarajevo [that the Muslims] wanted the media to see the Serbs attacking, and so they had to sometimes create the conditions for that.”


After reviewing the excerpts, Harland said “The general characterization is correct.” He told the court, “Certainly, the media was a key factor in the strategy of the Bosnian government.”


Harland also agreed with Karadzic’s claim that the “civic and human rights” of Serbs and Croats “were threatened” in Sarajevo.


Snipers in Sarajevo


According to Harland’s testimony, the warring factions in Sarajevo consisted of 50,000 men serving in the 1st Corps of the Bosnian Armija, and on the Serbian side the Sarajevo Romanija Corps of the VRS had approximately 20,000 men.


The witness testified that “The basic reality is that hundreds of thousands of people in the valley of the city, which is where most of the people lived, were very exposed to Serb fire." But he also confirmed Karadzic’s claim that most “Serb neighborhoods [in Sarajevo] had a hilltop or two towering above them held by the Muslim Army.”


According to Harland, “The overwhelming volume of fire into Sarajevo came from the Serb side.  But in some cases, it did not, and in some cases, we could not determine.” He said, “It is my position that the Bosnian government tended to try to overstate the suffering of the population, while the Serbs tried to understate it.”


Harland said that the Serbs weren’t the only snipers in Sarajevo. According to his testimony, “When it had been possible to monitor sniping in [the Sarajevo neighborhood of] Grbavica, it appeared that the Bosnians were sniping at civilians probably more than the Serbs, based on counting sniper rounds and sniper victims in areas controlled by the Bosnian government.” He said, “In meetings in Grbavica, the Serbs would often complain that they were suffering from sniping the Bosniaks.”

Harland recalled an incident where a Muslim sniper boasted to him that he had killed two young Serbian girls with one bullet just because he could. The sniper pulled the trigger because the girls were unfortunate enough to be standing in exactly the right position where they were both lined-up in his gun sights.


Harland testified that he was witness to two incidents of the Muslim snipers firing on their own people. He said there was one incident “in late 1993 and one in early 1994 of Bosniak snipers shooting at Bosniaks, including one where General Rose’s bodyguard returned fire at the Bosniaks shooting at the Bosniaks.”


The self-inflicted sniping benefited Muslim propaganda. Harland said whenever “there was a victim of shelling or sniping on Bosnian-controlled territory, it was assumed in the international media that the firing had been from the RS Army territory”


The practice of targeting one’s own civilians with sniper fire was unique to the Muslim side of the conflict. Harland said that he was “unaware of any instance where the Republika Srpska Army shot at their own civilians” and he “doubted if there was any such instance.”


Harland testified for the prosecution that “there was a substantial reduction in sniper fire after the signature of the anti-sniping agreement.  We could count fewer shots and fewer victims after that agreement was signed.  And to us, that was indicative of a degree of effective command and control over this by both sides”


He also agreed with Karadzic’s proposition that “If I issue an order for sniping to stop and that is not within the agreement, do you agree that it is more difficult for my army to stop if the other side doesn't stop as well?  If the other side is shooting, how can my unilateral order be successful?”


Harland said, “When I visited sniper positions either on the Bosnian side or on the Serb side, they, themselves, were normally trying to avoid getting shot at, so they might make a small hole in a wall, and sometimes they would even make another hole in a wall behind, and then they would rest their rifle.  So they have an extremely narrow view of fire.  That was true for Bosnian sniper positions and for Serb sniper positions that I saw.  But the same snipers would move from one nest like this to another, sometimes even after a few minutes, it seemed.  And sometimes the alignment of their line of sight was onto an area where civilians might pass.  Sometimes they were firing against other snipers. Sometimes they were firing against trench lines.  But it was the same people, with the same weapons, doing the same jobs from the same set of many positions, so our view was that it was extremely difficult to stop one type of this activity if you didn't just tell them all to stop -- give them all an order on both sides to stop their activities.”


Karadzic’s cross-examination of Harland will continue in the upcoming summary of the May 10th trial hearing. A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:


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