Aernout Van Lynden: Propagandist or Perjurer? - June 28, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing Date: May 20, 2010


Radovan Karadzic continued his cross-examination of British advocacy journalist Aernout van Lynden on Thursday May 20th. Van Lynden was a television reporter who advocated Western intervention in the Bosnian war on the side of the Bosnian Muslims. He covered the Bosnian war for Sky News.


Karadzic began by showing van Lynden a combat report from the Sarajevo Romanija Corps of the Bosnian-Serb Army (VRS). The document (exhibit D195) was dated June 8, 1992 and it corroborated Sefer Halilovic’s (the commander of the ABiH) report (exhibit D192) to Alija Izetbegovic on June 17, 1992.


Both reports showed that the Bosnian-Muslims opened fire on the Serbs from Sarajevo and inflicted heavy losses on them – even though they had agreed to a cease fire on June 1st.


When van Lynden saw the Halilovic report he tried to dismiss it by saying, “Military commanders will say a lot of -- make a lot of statements to their political leaders.” But when he saw the Serbian document corroborating it he began to complain to the judges.


Van Lynden said, “I'm not a lawyer, but as far as I'm aware, if the Prosecution is going to tender a document, it has to show those documents to the Defense beforehand.  If the Defense is going to put forward a document, the Prosecution has to see it beforehand.  But I have not seen any of these documents, and surely a witness has certain rights as well. How am I meant to react instantaneously to documents that I have never seen before?”


Judge Kwon told the witness, “I don't think the Tribunal has the rule the witness has to be shown the documents he’s going to see during the course of cross-examination.”


Van Lynden persisted in his complaining saying, “I think witnesses should also have rights to see certain documents. Mr. Karadzic could have been polite enough to show me those documents when I went to the prison to visit him.”


Karadzic told the witness, “[It’s not the] document that I'm asking you about.  It's really the events, and you reported on these events quite contrary to what is stated here. At no point was it said that there was an exchange of fire. From your reporting one could not even divine that there were any Serb victims [or] that the Muslims were the ones who had actually started the fighting.”


Van Lynden was full of excuses for why his reporting from Sarajevo wasn’t accurate. He said, “You expect me, on one side of the war zone, on one side of the front-lines, to hop over backwards and forwards to find out precisely what's happening on the other side. That is a ridiculous expectation of any war correspondent in any war zone.  You are reporting from one side or the other.” He said, “I couldn't see the whole of Sarajevo continually.  Nor do I have eyes in the back of my head, Your Honour.” Adding, “You can't be everywhere simultaneously.  It's a large drawn-out city, Sarajevo, and that should be borne in mind.”

An example of van Lynden’s false war reporting was his reportage on the fighting in the Sarajevo neighborhood of Otes.


In van Lynden’s December 5, 1992 report (exhibit P937) for Sky News he says, “Otes burns.  Four days after the Serbs launch their offensive, Sarajevo western suburb falls into their hands.”


After Karadzic showed the witness VRS combat reports and an Italian TV report saying that the Muslims attacked the Serbs from Otes and that the Serbs captured the neighborhood in a counter-offensive, van Lynden admitted “In all honesty, I don't know who began that particular engagement at Otes at the beginning of December 1992.”


The explanation wasn’t good enough for Karadzic. He asked the witness, “What was stated was that Otes fell into Serb hands four days after the Serbs had launched an offensive, and that harmed us, and it's not true; right?”


Van Lynden attempted to shift the blame to the UN saying, “We reported on the basis of the information that we were given by the United Nations forces in Sarajevo at the time.”


Again, the answer wasn’t good enough. Karadzic pressed the witness for more information. He asked, “Can you please be a bit more specific.  Who was it that gave you that information?”


Van Lynden had no answer. He said, “I don't remember precisely who that was.” But he tried to make excuses for himself saying, “To remember every single conversation and who gave us that information 18 years later, I'm sorry, I don't know the precise detail.”


Obviously, that’s not a satisfactory explanation. Van Lynden’s report is a prosecution exhibit in the trial, and now he says he doesn’t know where the information in it came from.


Juka Prazina


Karadzic showed the witness a report (exhibit D208) written by the BH Ministry of Defense and dated June 1, 1992.


The report dealt with Juka Prazina and his unit in Sarajevo. It said, “A significant number of shells that landed on this territory [Sarajevo] from the [Serbian] aggressor's positions” because Prazina and his men “opened fire and provoked the aggressors”. The report said, “a large number of apartments and buildings were hit and some people injured and killed” because of that.


The report said “Last night, around 2200 hours, Juka's guys installed a PAM on a confiscated Pinzgauer, and yesterday, in broad daylight, they opened fire towards Nedzarici while a large number of people were walking around in that settlement, men, women, and children. And then they repeated this again around 2200 hours, targeting the crew of the tanks on Mojmilo Hill, on which occasion a machine-gun opened fire from a transporter, and then seven or eight shells were launched from the Zavnobih Square on the Lukavica Road, on which occasion there was some material damage, and thousands of people had to seek shelter in their cellars.”


After seeing the report the witness said, “I was never taken by them into actual positions where they were shooting. I did not ever witness that, so I cannot confirm or deny this statement.”


Karadzic then proceeded to show the court a document (which they refused to exhibit because the witness couldn’t speak to it) from the BH Presidency dated September 11, 1992 promoting Juka Prazina to the rank of general in the ABiH on account of his “patriotic display of war skills”.


After seeing the document van Lynden said, “When I interviewed and saw Jusuf Prazina, he never told me he was a general.  He and his men simply called themselves defenders of Sarajevo.  As you, yourself, pointed out, and as I pointed out yesterday, in my report I made clear that this was a man with a criminal record.  There is nothing further that I can say about this.”


Karadzic put his case to the court that “Juka Prazina is a symptom.  The Presidency that appointed him to the Main Staff of the armed forces of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, knowing full well who he was. I'm talking here about a state that asked us to be subjugated to a social-political system in which Juka Prazina was a general.”


Karadzic also showed the witness a document written by Rashim Delic (exhibit D209) showing that the Bosnian-Muslims opposed the demilitarization of Sarajevo. Delic wrote that the “demilitarization of Sarajevo is out of the question”.


Igman & Trebevic


Karadzic asked the witness, “Mr. van Lynden, do you know who held Igman from the beginning until the end?  This part above Hrasnica, who held that area?”


The witness answered, “The Bosnian Army.” Adding, “I never personally witnessed artillery fire from Mount Igman onto Sarajevo.  And from our position at the military hospital, in the periods that we were there, if there was fire from Mount Igman, it would have been practically impossible for us to film, because it's way out to the west from the position that we had.”


Karadzic showed the witness an excerpt from Rashim Delic’s book where it said, “Jusuf Prazina fired from Igman during the course of one day only, about 300 projectiles, 130 millimeter and 82- millimeter mortars.  Also, during two or three days only, several thousand 120-millimetre shells were fired from Igman, twice as many as could have been provided to other army units.”


In addition Karadzic showed the witness the combat report of the Sarajevo Romanija Corps of the VRS for the same period which said, “The enemy [Muslims] fired artillery pieces from Igman and Hrasnica against Ilidza, Hadzici, Vojkovici, Lukavica, the Slobodan Princip Seljo Barracks, and positions of the 1st and 2nd Sarajevo Brigade.  Over 300 shells were fired, and a great deal of material damage was inflicted ... Two fighters were killed and nine wounded; two of them seriously.  At Ilidza, 15 women and children were wounded.”


After seeing the Serbian and Muslim documents the witness said, “I do not remember being informed of that.  I was in the Bosnian Army-controlled part of Sarajevo at that time” He explained, “While we were on one side of the front-lines, we report what we know of there.”


Because van Lynden was ignorant of the contents of the documents they were not admitted as exhibits in the trial, which is problematic because they impeach his credibility. His testimony is that the Bosnian Army was practically unarmed, but these documents show the contrary.


After van Lynden incorrectly identified a Muslim position on Mt. Trebevic as a Serbian position, Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you think, since you reported on those events, that you were supposed to know who held which position exactly?” And Van Lynden answered, “In no war zone do the forces give you precise locations of where their forces are stationed or precise front-lines.” He said, “Your forces took me on Mount Trebevic, Mr. Karadzic.  They showed me their positions along -- over the -- on the mountain overlooking Sarajevo.  At no time was I informed by your forces, Look over there, that's where the Bosnian Army is; therefore, we are in danger here, or we are being shot at from these places on Mount Trebevic.”


Of course it’s a matter of public information that Musan Topalovic “Caco” held positions for the Bosnian Army on Mt. Trebevic. That is where the famous Kazani pit is located where he sadistically butchered and beheaded his Serbian victims. A Google search for Caco and Trebevic is illuminating. The Serbs had positions up there too, but they didn’t have the whole thing like van Lynden seemed to think.


When Karadzic showed van Lynden a VRS document dated September 7, 1992 describing the heavy gunfire emanating from Sarajevo that the Serbs were subjected to van Lynden said, “It wasn't mentioned to me, as I recall at the time, nor was I taken there to be shown, by either people from your government or from your army, that this was taking place.”


“You never told me” was van Lynden’s standard cop-out answer. Of course nobody knows what van Lynden was told. Van Lynden didn’t bring any of his notes or raw footage to court so there is no way to corroborate what anyone told him.


Green Berets & Mobile Mortars


Van Lynden testified that the Green Berets were “a figment of Serb imagination.” He said “I never saw units of people with green berets walking around in Sarajevo in June 1992.” Therefore, van Lynden believes they must only exist in the Serbian imagination.


Of course there are thousands of pages of documents from Serbian, Croatian, Muslim, and UN sources testifying to the existence of Bosnian-Muslim “Green Beret” paramilitary units acting at the behest of the BH Presidency. The Tribunal itself has established their existence (See paragraph 119 in the November 16, 1998 judgment in the Delalic et al., trial under Background and Preliminary Factual Findings).


Another thing that van Lynden conveniently “didn’t see” was mobile mortar launchers in Sarajevo. Karadzic asked him, “Do you know, Mr. van Lynden, that Sarajevo was full of legitimate targets, and also that the Muslim forces used trucks in order to open fire at our positions, and then they would leave that particular location?”


Van Lynden replied, “I'm aware that this happens.  I have not seen, myself, a truck with a mortar mounted on it while I was in Sarajevo.”


Iranian involvement? Van Lynden didn’t see that in Bosnia either. He told the court, “I did not report, because I was not aware of any co-operation between the Bosnian Army and Iran and Pakistan, no.”


Again, there are reams of evidence about this. “The Iranian Green light Subcommittee” in the US congress put out a 500 page report on the subject 14 years ago that said, “Iran ordered senior members of its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (“IRGC”), the elite force used to advance militant Islam, to travel to Bosnia to survey the military needs of the government. IRGC trainers taught the Muslims how to use anti-tank missiles and helped with troop logistics and weapons factories. The IRGC also incorporated religious indoctrination into military training. Iran used this leverage to urge Hizballah to send foreign fighters to the region as members of the Mujahideen. The effort was successful and a force of thousands drawn from several pro-Iranian groups and other Islamic Opposition movements assembled in Bosnia.” Iran provided the Izetbegovic regime with two-thirds of its weaponry. (See: US House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, Final Report of the Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia; October 10 & 25, 1996; Pg. 543-545)


There were thousands of foreign mujahadeen in Bosnia and Iran was providing the Muslims with two-thirds of their weapons, and van Lynden says he was “not aware” of it. That seems hard to believe. Just like it’s difficult to believe that he really thinks the Green Berets were a figment of the Serbian imagination.


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:

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