Karadzic Cross-Examines Harland on Muslim Crimes in the UN Safe Areas and in Sarajevo

www.slobodan-milosevic.org - June 23, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Hearing date:
May 10, 2010


In a marathon 8-hour-long hearing prosecution witness David Harland continued his testimony in the trial of Radovan Karadzic on Monday, May 10th. Harland was a senior UN official in Bosnia during the war.


Muslim Deception and Abuse in the UN Safe Areas (Srebrenica, Zepa, Gorazde, etc…)


Karadzic put his case to the witness that the Bosnian-Muslim military force in the UN Safe Area of Gorazde tried to trick Bosnian-Serb forces into attacking UN personnel.


Harland agreed saying “It was certainly the view of General Rose that the sudden collapse and withdrawal of the Bosnian forces [from Gorazde] could not easily be explained simply by the presence of the Serb forces … he certainly shared your assessment that the withdrawal had not been forced by Serb military pressure and that it may even have been the intent of that withdrawal to expose his observers, one of whom I think died of his wounds.”


Karadzic also showed the witness a number of documents including a dispatch (Exhibit D140) sent from the Supreme Staff of the ABiH to the 8th Srebrenica Group on the 9th of November, 1994.


The dispatch laid out the plan of the Bosnian-Muslim military forces in the region. It said, “The plan is:  Liberate in active combat actions part of the temporarily seized territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina - the municipalities of Bratunac, Vlasenica, Sekovici, Zvornik, and Kalesija, and link the free territories of Zepa and Srebrenica with the free territories of Zvornik, Kalesija, and Zivinice, in order to create a permanent free corridor for the supply of the population and logistics support to the units of the army of the RBH, and a basis for the further liberation of North-eastern Bosnia as a whole.”


Harland dismissed the plan as militarily impossible but said, “On the Srebrenica side, yes, it’s certainly true.  We were aware that the Bosniaks wanted to attack and were attacking sometimes out of the enclave.”


Karadzic also showed the witness a report (exhibit D141) written by Colonel Avdo Palic, the commander of the 1st Zepa Light Brigade. The report said, “Two sabotage operations were carried out in the Laze-Mislovo sector.  The actions were carried out on the 12th of December, 1994. We suffered no losses and had no wounded in these sabotage operations. The Chetnik side had five killed, one of whom was an officer.”


Karadzic asked the witness why the UN never did anything to prevent the Muslims from abusing the UN Safe Areas and using them as a launching pad for their military attacks. Harland explained that “It is true that we in the international community never used force against the Bosniak side, but we often did against the Serbs and occasionally against the Croats.” He said, “according to our mandate, like it or not, that mandate was requiring all forces except for the Bosnian government forces to withdraw from around the enclaves.  Certainly it would have been useful if the sides had entered into a viable cease-fire.” He said, “The preconditions for the circumstances in which the Serbs could be bombed are outlined in Resolution 836.  The problem is that 836 is not very precise.”


Another document that Karadzic had at his disposal was a Muslim military report about Srebrenica and Zepa (exhibit D144) written by Jusuf Jasarevic, the Chief of Security of the ABiH main staff. The document said, “Among the population of Srebrenica, there is growing disgust trust towards the civilian and military leadership.” 


The document accused Srebrenica commander Naser Oric and the municipal officials, Osman Suljic, Adem Salihovic, and Hamdija Fejzic of manipulating the supply of humanitarian aid and collaborating “with members from UNPROFOR and even with the aggressor in their smuggling activities.”


According to the report, “During his time in Srebrenica, Oric surrounded himself with criminally-minded people such as Ejub Golic, Ibrahim Mandzic, aka Mrki; Husein Aljukic, aka Behaija and a man called Celo, who was his body-guard. These people committed several crimes at Oric’s behest.”


“The commander of the Ukrainian UNPROFOR Battalion [in Zepa] handed over all the weapons at his disposal to our soldiers, and these were immediately used to defend Zepa.  According to several displaced persons from Zepa, he even sent false reports to UNPROFOR command in Sarajevo saying that members of the Ukrainian Battalion had been directly attacked and requested NATO air-strikes against the Chetniks.”


Harland reacted to the report saying, “This document says that he sent a false report to UNPROFOR command in Sarajevo.  I was on the receiving end of that report, so I do recall receiving the report that weapons had been seized by the defenders.  So maybe I was one of the ones who was deceived there.”


Karadzic also exhibited many documents emanating from the ABiH (exhibits: D145, D146, D147, D148, D149, D150, D151, D152, and D153) detailing how they smuggled weapons into the UN Safe Areas – often times with the complicity of UNPROFOR.


Harland confirmed that “there was a considerable movement of weaponry” into Srebrenica and Zepa in early 1995. He said, “President Izetbegovic acknowledged it directly that the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina was very assertively violating the no-fly zone to insert weapons and sophisticated resent weapons and President Izetbegovic told me, trainers as well and personnel.”


Although Harland’s testimony was beneficial to Karadzic’s case in many ways, it wasn’t 100% supportive. Harland also testified “I have no doubt that there were criminal elements among the leadership on the Bosnian side.  We were well aware of it.  But it doesn't change the fact that the Serbs were massively interfering with our (UNPROFOR) freedom of movement in order to reduce our effectiveness and in order to reduce the amount of humanitarian assistance that went to a deeply suffering population (in the safe areas).” He said, “There's a document, your Directive 7, signed by you, which states that the goal of Serb forces for 1995 will be to strangle the enclaves, and that is completely consistent with what we viewed, and these restrictions which were very widespread were just manifestations of that intention.  There were gross violations.”


Karadzic pointed out that UNPROFOR had been complicit in the smuggling of weapons and he promised that later on in his defense case there will be a “quite satisfactory illumination and explication” of Directive 7.


Harland was also extremely critical of the Bosnian-Serb military for the way they dealt with Avdo Palic, the Muslim military commander in Zepa. He said, “My colleague Ed Joseph escorted him up to the check-point where he would negotiate an agreement with General Tolimir under a flag of truce.  General Tolimir had him taken away, and his dead body was only identified much, much later.  I think it's really a terrible thing that your forces did to Palic under a flag of truce.”


Karadzic didn’t deny that his men had killed Palic. He said, “The Army of Republika Srpska did have a lot of reasons not to trust Mr. Palic, because the convoy that supplies the relay in 1992, in May or in June, had been massacred, although Avdo Palic had given his word that he would secure the relay.”


Propaganda and Goals


According to Harland, “The Serbs were very bad at putting out their side of the message even when they had points that they needed to justify.” He said, “There was a very negative relationship between Republika Srpska and the Western press.” He described the relationship between the Bosnian-Serbs and the Western media as “something of a vicious circle.” He said the Bosnian-Serbs “didn't give access, and so the journalists became suspicious and hostile” which made the Bosnian-Serbs even less inclined to grant access.


During the war, Harland said, the Muslims “had very little interest in an effective general cease-fire” because “they feared that if it was a really good cease-fire that over time those boundaries would become fixed and they would be left on a very small part of the territory.” Instead the Muslims favored small regional cease-fires which they used “to buy time to re-arm.”


He described the Bosnian-Muslim leadership saying, “Some had very maximalist goals and believed that one day the Bosniaks would control the entire country if they could just buy enough time. Others felt they should take an agreement that was on offer, and they, in fact, regretted that they had not accepted earlier agreements like Cutileiro or Owen-Stoltenberg or HMS Invincible agreements.”




Karadzic laid out his defense for the Sarajevo siege saying, “We are being charged with launching attacks on a peaceful city.  However, Sarajevo was a fortress which was run by criminals, and they could go on killing Serbs without being taken to charge and that was a whole system.  There was not just one single criminal in the Old City of Sarajevo.  There were a host of them and they were part of a system ... We are charged with being in a joint criminal enterprise, and those who wanted to place the entire Bosnia under their control are not charged with anything.”


Harland testified about Sarajevo saying, “[According to] our mortar-detecting radar, the vast majority of shells, over 99 per cent, that landed in Sarajevo, came from Serb-held positions.” He said, “Life in (Serb) Banja Luka was like life in Beverly Hills compared to life in (Muslim) Sarajevo”


Although Harland gave some evidence that was unfavorable to Karadzic, he also gave a lot of evidence that was extremely favorable. For example, he said “I can confirm that I was at meetings from the Igman period on where you [Karadzic] supported a total demilitarization of Sarajevo and other enclaves.” But the Muslims rejected it.


The witness also confirmed that the Muslims launched a military offensive against the Serbs from inside Sarajevo while they were negotiating it’s demilitarization with the Serbs and the UN.


Karadzic read out an excerpt from one of Harland’s reports to the UN (exhibit P834) where he said: “Dr. Karadzic and his colleagues Professor Koljevic, Mr. Krajisnik, General Milovanovic began the meeting in Pale with an angry statement about the Bosnian attack out of Sarajevo on Sunday, 18th of September, 1994.  Karadzic said that there could be no talks on demilitarization after such attack and that he would flatten the Presidency if there were a repetition of the episode.


“On the brighter side one would have to conclude that General Rose's swift actions in denouncing the Bosnians for Sunday's attack was a success.  His comments threatened to undermine their vital advantage, international sympathy and support through positive media coverage.  If they undertake similar provocative actions in the future, then I think that they will at least be careful to disguise them better.”


Karadzic asked whether the Muslims were serious about making Sarajevo safe and peaceful for the civilian population when they launched a military offensive during the negotiations to demilitarize the city. Harland replied saying the military offensive “doesn't sound like a peace-loving initiative.”


Karadzic read out an excerpt from General Rose’s book (exhibit D162) where he wrote, “There was a limit to the hard line that we could take with the Bosnian government.  They knew that the Americans were unlikely to allow NATO airpower to be used against the Bosnian army even though it was in breach of a NATO ultimatum, nor was it likely that economic sanctions would be imposed on the Bosnians for breaking UN Security Council resolutions.  In this context, UNPROFOR was not able to sustain the principle of impartiality that is so essential to any peacekeeping mission.”


Harland agreed with General Rose’s observation and he said, “Yes.  The mandate was constructed in a way that was much more supportive of the Bosnian government.  Our whole presence allowed food and assistance to flow and allowed the lines to stabilize while they rearmed, yes.  The whole mandate behind UNPROFOR was more attractive to the Bosnian government than the Bosnian Serbs.” He commented on the role of the United States saying, “We were aware that the Bosnian government was receiving external assistance for its military effort and that this was supported by the United States in some way.”


Harland also confirmed that the Serbs were double-crossed when they handed Mt. Igman, overlooking Sarajevo, over to UNPROFOR. Karadzic said, “We handed over the Igman zone to you, to UNPROFOR, but they (the Muslims) entered through that zone and killed 20 of our medical workers.” Harland answered saying, “I definitely recall the act when Bosnian government forces crossed through the zone from which the Serbs had withdrawn [on Mt. Igman] and killed a group of medics.”


Karadzic also quoted extensively from the reports that Harland wrote during his time in Bosnia. One report (exhibit P835) said, “Power (and hence water) and gas began to flow to Sarajevo.  The sporadic nature of these supplies appeared, as before, to be caused more by the interference of the BH than by the Serbs.”


Harland confirmed his report saying, “Yes.  We were aware that they also interfered with the utilities, yes.”


In another report (exhibit P830) Harland wrote, “The inference of organized crime appeared to have reached unprecedented levels especially in Sarajevo.


“Muslim radicals appear to be gaining the upper hand at the expense of moderates who favor a multinational B and H society. BH controlled Sarajevo is approximately 80 per cent ethnic Muslim.  The non-Muslims are being replaced in government by Muslims, and non-Muslims are increasingly uncomfortable.


“Organized crime appears to be spiraling out of control in Sarajevo. UNPROFOR has been drawn into the problem its personnel and facilities being used as conduits for black market goods. 


“The food situation continues to be confusing. Convoy deliveries have increased recently, but the distribution by the BH government to Sarajevo citizens is still very limited.  Large quantity [of] this food is diverted to the military and a smaller amount re-surfaces on the black market.  The bulk of the missing aid (perhaps 60 per cent), remains unaccounted for.  Speculation is that the BH government is stockpiling it.”


Karadzic corroborated Harland’s report with a report (exhibit D164) from the ABiH itself which said: “According to the assessment of the commander of the 101st Motorized Brigade of the 1st Corps, the combat morale in his unit has slowly started to decline.  There are many reasons for this situation, various rumors and negative propaganda included.  There are some rumors in the units of this brigade to the effect that the president of the Presidency received from an Arab president 10,000 US dollars for cigarettes for the army, but they did not receive.  Also they should buy 120,000 uniforms, but they did not do that, instead the soldiers are still fighting in their own jeans and sneakers.  Besides that, they transferred to the town drinks, cigarettes, oranges, bananas and other goods which were exclusively used for smuggling instead of providing weapons and ammunition.  Also in the city there are open cafes and other private shops and their owners are very often members of the army who have been reselling stolen goods from the beginning of the war.”


These reports illustrate institutionalized corruption in the Izetbegovic regime, and a clear policy by that regime to inflict as much needless suffering on the civilian population as possible so that they could profit politically and financially.


Caco, Izetbegovic, and Criminals in the ABiH Military Command


Another one of Harland’s reports (exhibit P823) said, “The BH media is bringing the UN for many of its wars, including organized crime.  Ukrainian and French troops allegedly conduct a wide range of black market and other illegal activities in Sarajevo, often in full view of the Sarajevo public.


“BH snipers have been firing on UN personnel and around UNPROFOR's forward headquarter.  Two Bosnian snipers have been firing, not only at the UN personnel, but also at local pedestrians in the vicinity.  First call claimed that these snipers are renegades, supporters of Caco.”


Musan Topalovic, aka Caco, was a notorious criminal and the commander of the 10th Mountain Brigade of the ABiH stationed in Sarajevo.


Karadzic showed Harland a report (exhibit D166) written by Fikret Muslimovic the head of ABiH military security dated December 1992, and as you will see the date of this report is crucial.


The report said: “We note that as regards the unlawful and destructive activity of Musan Topalovic, Caco, we have provided information several times already, and in this connection we have proposed certain measures in order to make it impossible for him to behave that way.  Inter-alia, in a document that we sent on the 1st of December, 1992, when the 10th Mountain Brigade was still in the process of being established and Caco as one of the candidates for its commander, we presented the information we had available on his mistreatment and arrest of citizens and even his own soldiers.  Liquidations of citizens who were ethnic Serbs.  Forced mobilisation and taking citizens to dig trenches.  Among these citizens there were sick people and disabled people.”


When Harland saw the report he said, “[Caco] was an out-of-control commander, in what was a very chaotic defense of Sarajevo, and the document you've presented is illustrative of an effort by the Bosnian government to restore some sort of order and decency in the military establishment.”


Karadzic said, “The Bosnian government would kiss you for these explanations.” But then he showed Harland another document (exhibit D167) dated May 7, 1993 – almost six months AFTER the Muslimovic report. This document was a report written by the command of the 10th Mountain Brigade itself – the very unit that Caco was the commander of. This document said, “The security organs had the exceptional honor today, as well as the very complex task of executing all security actions in a very professional manner in order that the visit by Mr. Izetbegovic, the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to our brigade would proceed in the best possible way. At the time of the writing of this report, 14.45 hours, the president is still our guest and we hope that the visit will be completed successfully in every way”


Karadzic also showed another report dated January 2, 1994. It was an interview with Nihad Hodzic, a member of the 10th Mountain Brigade, and it was compiled by the Security Administration of the ABiH. The document quotes Hodzic as saying, “I don't know anything about the alleged visits made by the officers of the SVK (Supreme Command), but I did hear that Alija Izetbegovic once visited the 10th Mountain Brigade before I was wounded and gave us a sower of death (M84 machine gun) one night, I do not recall the exact date, but I think that it was in mid-October 1993.”


The report also went on to detail how the 10th Mountain Brigade and Caco personally tortured and butchered Serbian prisoners at the Kazani Pit.


The criminality went right to the top of the Izetbegovic regime with Izetbegovic personally visiting a unit commanded by a known criminal and even giving them a M84 “death sower” machine gun to kill Serbs with.


When confronted with the evidence Harland backpedaled somewhat from his earlier position he said, “There is no doubt that President Izetbegovic did want to work with people who he thought could contribute to the defense of the city even when they were people who were clearly extremely undesirable. … I would agree that clearly the fact that [Caco had] been victimizing Serbs is not the only thing that the Bosnian government had against him, and it was probably not enough for them to move against him.” He said, “I agree with you that the crimes against Serbs were not sufficient to make the government move against him, but they were trying to establish some sort of lawful state there.”


According to Harland, “The defense of Sarajevo was an extremely diverse coalition of people.  There were nationalists, there were Islamists, there were criminals, there were psychopaths, there were good citizens, there were democrats, and there were a lot of people who were simply confused to be the object of attack from Serb forces, and they had nothing in common except they were all under attack by you.”


Caco wasn’t the only criminal in command of a military unit in Sarajevo either. Karadzic pointed out that “Ramiz Delalic, Celo, who killed a participant in the wedding party, he bragged about that on TV, was he also a criminal who had his unit in the territory of the town of Sarajevo.”


Harland agreed saying, “Yes ... I think from the beginning of this line of questioning, Dr. Karadzic, I have agreed that the Bosnian government used anybody who was capable of fighting to defend the city, and many of those people were extremely unattractive.”


Karadzic also put to Harland a document (exhibit D171) where ABiH commander Sefer Halilovic disputes the official explanation that a Bosnian-Serb shell killed his wife and brother in his apartment in Sarajevo. Rather, Halilovic suspected that one of the criminal elements in the Army was trying to assassinate him.


The summary of Harland’s testimony will continue in the May 11th summary. A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/trans/en/100510IT.htm



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