Karadzic Cross-Examines Donia on Speeches and Intercepts
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - August 19, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing Date: June 8, 2010


As the testimony of American historian Robert Donia dragged into its sixth day, the trial chamber in the Radovan Karadzic trial sought to impose a time limit on the cross-examination.


The presiding trial Judge, O-Gon Kwon stated, “As regards the time remaining for Mr. Karadzic's cross examination of Dr. Donia, having observed the conduct of his cross-examination so far, we are not satisfied that  Mr. Karadzic has used his time efficiently in compliance with the Court's guidance." Kwon said, "He used open questions, made comments, statements, and read out unnecessary parts of documents. So at this time, the Chamber has decided to require him to conclude his cross-examination of Dr. Donia by tomorrow.”


Karadzic objected saying, “I'm not protected enough from the evasive answers of the witness and his partiality.  Therefore, this will not be sufficient.”


Radovan Karadzic’s Intentions


Karadzic cross-examined Donia on a number of intercepted telephone conversations and speeches. Karadzic told the court, “I'm doing this to show what it is that I uttered in my telephone conversations without knowing that this would be intercepted or presented as evidence.” He said, “My intention is to show mens rea in this way, to see what the state of mind of Radovan Karadzic was from July 1990 onwards until the 15th of October [1991].”


July 1990 being the time Karadzic entered politics and October 15, 1991 being the day the Bosnian Assembly, illegally in Karadzic’s opinion, began the process of Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia.


Interviews & Tapped Telephone Calls


Karadzic read from an interview (exhibit D269) he did with the Serbian magazine NIN on July 20, 1990 in which he called on Serbs to seek peaceful coexistence with other nations and to do away with the Chetnik/Partisan division among the Serbian people.


After reading the interview Donia said, “It's not my testimony or my account that would paint you as having, back at this time, the kind of animosities that you displayed nor the kind of hard-line positions that you assumed later on in the conflict.”


Karadzic Speaks to the Bosnian Assembly


Karadzic also showed Donia the speech (exhibit D267) he made at the Bosnian Assembly at the October 14/15, 1991 session. A full transcript of the speech is available at:


In the speech Karadzic said:


“I have to explain something which stems from the interpretation of what we say at this speakers' platform.  That thing is namely related to the issue of war and peace.  For the hundredth time I have to repeat that the Serbs do not threaten with war.  Serbs only make it public that they would not be able to accept any decision reached by out-voting and to their detriment and that the Serbs could not be forced to live in the state that they do not want.  Serbs and Muslims, we understand each other well.  That is, Muslims are afraid that they will become a minority in the Rump Yugoslavia, even though they enjoy the protection of the republic which would never become a constituent part of Serbia but which would be completely equal to Serbia.  So Serbs are also afraid that in Bosnia-Herzegovina they would be out-voted now or several years later. It is completely the same.  Please, gentlemen, Muslim leaders have clearly stated so far that should this catastrophe occur, it would, above all, be the catastrophe of Muslim people and also the catastrophe for the Serbs and Croats as well, especially the Serbs and Muslims.


“The Serbs have never attacked Muslims, nor would they ever attack Muslims, nor is there such a sentiment among the Serbs in relation to Muslims.


“The Serb Democratic Party does not support chaos, and precisely because we do not support chaos, we keep insisting that not a single decision be passed that would be against any nation in Yugoslavia or any nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  I know for sure that should there be chaos, Serbs, Muslims and Croats would suffer -- especially Serbs and Muslims.”


Donia reacted to the speech saying, “I look at it as a very aggressive statement of the position that you had taken on out-voting, that is, the right to veto any measure at the same time that you were incorporating repeated protestations of innocence and peaceful intentions.”


Judge Baird asked, “Dr. Donia, would you say it was a war mongering speech?” And Donia replied, “Only at the very end.”


A warmonger is a person who urges or attempts to stir-up war. The following passage is the part of the speech that Donia considered warmongering.


Karadzic said in his speech: “You cannot interfere in the matters that are regulated by the federal constitution.  I am trying in the most peaceful way to tell you this as well.  The Serbian people know what you to achieve in The Hague that this would become the third or the fourth republic that does not wish to exist in Yugoslavia, and that is not true, because we want to live in Yugoslavia.  You can speak for yourselves. All sovereign people in Bosnia-Herzegovina should speak for themselves. No other group of people should do it on their behalf.  We even reached such a conclusion at this Assembly.  We will prevent you before domestic and international public from implementing violence against the Serbian people, the constitutional violence, because after constitutional violence all other types of violence could follow.


“This has been repeated here hundred of times.  We do not have any say in the situation if we get into the situations in which Slovenia and Croatia are, especially because this hell in Bosnia and Herzegovina would be thousand times more grave, and there would be no way to stop it.


“I ask you, once again, I'm not threatening, I'm begging you to take seriously the interpretation of the political will of the Serbian people


“I'm pleading with you to take this seriously, that this is not the proper way that the road that you chose for Bosnia and Herzegovina is the same highway of hell and suffering which Slovenia and Croatia had taken.  Do not think that you will not take Bosnia and Herzegovina to hell, and Muslim people into obliteration, because should there and a war, Muslim people would not be able to defend themselves.


“Big situations require big words.  How will you prevent people from killing each other in Bosnia and Herzegovina?”


Donia told Karadzic, “I believe that the very last part of [the speech] is warmongering, and essentially the last six or seven sentences that you have read in the context of the time, with their repeated references to violence and parallel republics in which wars had raged or were raging and the manner of your delivery made this into what I would call a brief warmongering part of an overall speech that otherwise was not.” As always, the readers can be the judge for themselves whether Karadzic was trying to incite a war or whether he was trying to warn people against one.


After listening to Donia characterize his speech as warmongering, Karadzic asked, “Do you believe that I was supposed to deceive the Assembly of Bosnia-Herzegovina, to say to them, Just go ahead, the Serbs will accept that [Bosnia’s secession from Yugoslavia], when I know full well that the Serbs would not?”


Donia answered, “I think you were delivering the message on behalf of the party and certainly what you believed to be the near unanimous opinion of the Serb people.”


Karadzic asked Donia, “Do you think that it is possible to pass constitutional decisions in an unconstitutional way?”


What Karadzic is referring to is the declaration on Bosnian sovereignty that was passed in the assembly by the Croat and Muslim deputies on October 15, 1991 in the absence and over the objections of the Serbian deputies in the early morning hours after the speaker had adjourned the assembly.


Donia answered, “Well, I'm just completely baffled myself about what the constitution said about this, about the action that was subsequently taken.  I have always thought it looked to me more like a matter of the rules of order of the Assembly than the constitution, but I really don't know if that's the case and wouldn't pretend to interpret it.”


Karadzic exhibited one of his bugged telephone conversations (exhibit D268) from the day after that fateful assembly session. A Bosnian-Muslim politician named Rasim Kadic (president of the Liberal party) called him and said:  “All of this is illegal; it has nothing to do with anything whatsoever.” He said, “It is something that nobody in Europe will be able to swallow.”


Kadic told Karadzic, “It is obvious that the mistakes of others are giving rise to an extra institutional solution to the crisis, so that suits no one.”


Tapped Phone Conversation with Gojko Djogo


One of the most notorious pieces of evidence against Karadzic is the intercept of his telephone conversation with Gojko Djogo (exhibit D279). If anyone cares to read the full transcript of the conversation it is available at:


The most famous parts of the intercept, and the parts that Karadzic dealt with in court, were the following excerpts where he said:


“They [the Bosnian-Muslims] are preparing for war ... they will try to wage war here [in Sarajevo] ... they're totally crazy ... they will disappear, that people will disappear from the face of the earth if they start [a war] now ... they have to know that there are 20,000 armed Serbs around Sarajevo, that's insane, they will disappear, Sarajevo will be a black cauldron where 300,000 Muslims will die, they're not right in the head.”


“There are ordinary [Muslim] people out there, and I think they should be welcomed with open arms. But the leadership, there will be no hesitation, they must know that, that if they want to secede [from Yugoslavia] they will have to start a war against us and to hit us, to fight us, and then they will get our response.”


After reading out the intercept Karadzic asked the witness, “It is true that I anticipated that should there be a war they would fare the worst, and that's how it was because they went to war against the Serbs and the Croats and everybody else.  So why do you think that I'm wishing for this?”


Donia replied, “You speak here as one who is totally in control of the situation. The issue of war or peace is something that you say you hold in your hands depending on how they behave.” He said, “I see the fault with your statements which are clearly threatening and clearly issued from the point of view of someone who believes he has command of the situation and can dictate to the Muslims what their options are.”


Karadzic pressed the witness. He said, “Am I saying here that they were getting ready for the war while we were proposing a political solution?”


Donia agreed, “You're saying that, ‘We let them, but they are preparing for war.’  Yes.”


Karadzic concluded the line of questioning by saying, “They're getting ready for the war.  So I'm not controlling anything.  I'm just saying that they were getting ready for the war, and should there be a war there could be a catastrophe.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you believe the Muslims had a right to impose a solution on the Serbs?  Do you think that somebody had a right to change the position of the Bosnia and Herzegovina in an unconstitutional way and that we were duty bond to accept that?”


Donia dodged the question. He said, “I can't sort out constitutional issues in the departure of Bosnia and Herzegovina from the federation. Whether it would be constitutional or not, I don't know.”


Tapped Phone Conversations during the Time of the Serb-Muslim Agreement


During the summer of 1991 the Muslim-Bosniak Organization (MBO) entered into negotiations with Radovan Karadzic and the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) to find a way out of the crisis. They initially had the support of Alija Izetbegovic, but he later changed his mind and renounced the negotiations.


Donia testified, “Mr. Zulfikarpasic and Professor Filipovic (from the MBO) were the initiators of this proposal.  They walked into your [Karadzic’s] office, as I understand it, and proposed it.”


Karadzic asked him, “And you do remember that they had said that Professor Koljevic and I joyfully accepted that.  That is what Filipovic wrote in his book; right?”


Donia answered, “I don't remember that, but I don't doubt it a bit.”


Karadzic exhibited one of his tapped conversations (exhibit D277) with Nenad Stevandic, a member of the committee of the Serb Democratic Party in Banja Luka and in Krajina.


In the conversation, which was recorded on August 18th 1991, Karadzic says:


“Tell them [the other members of the SDS] not to do anything stupid on any account, because then we would be accused of these stupidities.  Alija, and tell them this outright.  Alija, remember this, does not have any arguments against the Serbs.  He cannot tell the Muslims 'we don't want to reach an agreement with the Serbs.'  However, he cannot say why it is that he doesn’t want that. Therefore, why would we help him now find his way?  Let him sink. 


“Zulfikarpasic is trying to send him as well and everybody else.  He has to tell the Muslims why he wants war against the Serbs.  He has to explain that.  And now if we do something stupid he can say ‘this is why we want war against the Serbs’.”


Donia didn’t see this as a sign of good faith in Karadzic’s negations with the MBO, rather he said, “I think this is part of the overall effort to undermine Izetbegovic and to force him, basically, to concur in this [Serb-Muslim] agreement by working against him with both Muslims and Serbs who were similarly inclined.”


Karadzic had a similar conversation with Dragan Djokanovic of the Democratic Party of Federalists (a smaller Bosnian-Serb party). In that intercept (exhibit D274) Karadzic is heard on the 26th of July 1991 saying, “Alija has nowhere to go.  It's a dead end.  All the legal matters are in our hands. The Muslims who do not want to wage war.  They have a republic. They have Yugoslavia.  No sane person wants to wage war, and Alija wants to wage war in order to change it.  Now Alija cannot explain to the Muslim people why they should wage war, but if we do something stupid, then he could say to them, ‘well, this is why you should wage war’."


Donia responded to the intercept saying, “This was at that time when the Belgrade initiative, or, if you want to, the grand agreement or historical agreement between the Serbs and Muslims was being negotiated.  This effort was underway and both you and Milosevic had decided that the best way to pursue it was to undermine Izetbegovic and force him or somehow influence him to make this agreement come about.”


Karadzic showed yet another intercept of one of his conversations with Vojo Kupresanin dated September 18, 1991 (exhibit D278).


Karadzic was quoted on the intercept saying, “Reservists should respond to the JNA call-up. They should all urgently go to the local boards.  Mass response, because whether there will be war or peace depends on that. Let there be this army replenishment so that we can show and prove to Europe that peace is the only way out, that they should not wage war.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “Now, tell me, please, was the JNA at that point in time a legitimate military force in Bosnia?” Donia agreed, “Yes, it was.”


Karadzic asked, “Can't you see that we are advocating mobilization in order to avert the danger of war?”


Donia replied, “I think this goes to the fundamental decision that was made sometime in 1990, or maybe earlier, by President Milosevic that the Serbs should not organize their own army that they should instead support and join the JNA.” The witness went on to state his opinion that Serb support for the JNA “was a fateful decision, because it put the JNA in the position of supporting the various Serb political movements outside of Serbia proper.”


The intercepts speak clearly to the fact that Radovan Karadzic didn’t want war, that he was trying to find a peaceful agreement with the Muslims, and that he supported Yugoslavia and the JNA.


Ironically, the source of the intercepts was the Muslims themselves. Karadzic told the court, “Your excellencies, for me these intercepts are first and foremost evidence showing that the Muslim authorities intercepted in an unlawful way the conversations of Serbian leaders.  This could not be done without the decision of the court and approval of the Presidency, and those are lacking.”


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:


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