Philipps Concludes Testimony in Karadzic Trial - September 21, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing date: June 16, 2010


Former British intelligence officer, and Prosecution witness, Richard Philipps concluded his testimony about the Sarajevo Romanija Corps (SRK) of the Bosnian Serb Army in the Radovan Karadzic trial on June 16th.


Philipps described the scope of his work saying, “My task was to show the organization of the corps and the lines of command and control up and down the corps and the passage of data up and down the corps.” He said, “I would certainly agree that the charts I've produced are not complete, not perfectly correct. And I think any additional correction to them could only assist the Court, provided that those additions and corrections were backed up by documents that were reliable.”


How the SRK Was Armed


The witness gave limited testimony about the way in which the SRK was equipped. He said, “Some of the weapons of the 4th Corps were then into the hands of what became the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps and some equipment was removed when the 4th Corps of the JNA was required to leave Sarajevo. So not all of the equipment of the 4th Corps became that of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, but a large quantity did. I have no knowledge of what equipment came from the Territorial Defence.”


Karadzic’s Case


Karadzic put his case to the judges. He said the Prosecution was “creating an impression of a well-organized huge military force that is fighting an undefended city, I cannot leave the Trial Chamber deluded in that way. That is not the case. Mr. Philipps saw this from the documents that we read today and also the documents that he had read. Literally people did not wish to leave their homes. They defended their very often homes. So it is not the way things have been depicted. This is not a corps of an army that had come from somewhere. These were people who were mobilized right from there, and I have to say that this was a corps that was not operating properly because it had lots of problems. That is what I'm trying to prove through these documents that Mr. Philipps had seen or should have seen.”




Karadzic spent most of his cross-examination time putting documents to the witness that bolstered his case that the SRK consisted of the local population and that it functioned under very difficult circumstances, and quite often the witness agreed with him.


He showed the witness documents (exhibits D325 & D318) detailing the communications network in the SRK and the VRS in general. After reviewing the documents the witness agreed, “It's not the perfect communication by any means and it is not the same type of communication that you would expect to find throughout a professional corps.” He said, “I think we have seen that in all specialisms, engineering, artillery, communications, that there was a shortage of highly trained personnel.”


The personnel serving in the SRK consisted of the local Serbian population. Karadzic showed the witness two documents proving this point. The first document (exhibit D317) was an SRK report dated May 29, 1992. It said the corps command was having difficulty forming battalions “because armed men are self-organized and disorganized with very deviant convictions concerning their and only their own home.”


After reading the document the witness said, “From the first extract that I have read from this document, that I read out earlier, it says that the men are self-organized and that they are concerned only with their own home.”


The second document (exhibit D322) was a mobilization order from the end of the war dated April 19, 1995. It said, “All soldiers and officers should be taken out from their homes and should be brought to the area where their positions are … Commanders have to be in their units as envisaged, rather than at their homes.” So it follows that the men in the SRK were the local population who lived in the corps’ area of responsibility.


Karadzic asked the witness, “What is it that could compel this population to send every able-bodied male into the corps if it weren't for the protection of one's own homes?” And the witness answered, “I really can't put myself inside the head of other people, I'm afraid.”


Karadzic showed the witness an SRK combat readiness report (exhibit 324) dated September 21, 1992. It said: “The state of combat-readiness in corps units has been improved by the latest activities and combat results. It continues to be encumbered by ineffective command and control at almost all levels and the large influence of the authorities on command and control up to brigade level, especially in the Rajlovac Brigade, the 2nd Rmtbr, Romanija Motorised Brigade, and Vogosca Brigade. The tendency to defend one's own door-step is still present and it is very difficult to get units to move forward short distances, not to mention maneuvers of units in the corps zone.


“The corps command is taking measures in co-operation with the civilian authorities and the MUP, the Ministry of the Interior, to prevent negative occurrences. The measures have been slow and ineffective so far, and despite the seminar on Jahorina we do not have the same approach to resolving problems. It is noticeable that we agree in talks, but in practice everybody does what he wants.”


The witness commented on the document saying, “You might expect in such a situation that it would be difficult to get units to attack or move forward at that point in time due to the possibility of casualties.”


Discipline was also a problem in the ranks of the SRK. Karadzic showed the witness a document (exhibit 323) from the Corps command that outlined numerous problems plaguing the corps from war profiteering, excessive consumption of ammunition and supplies, to the drunkenness and unprofessional appearance of some soldiers.


Karadzic said, “This shows how many problems a corps of a people's army has. A professional unit of this size would certainly not be facing this type of problem.”


The witness said, “There are certainly mentioned there lapses of discipline relating to dress and behavior and all sorts of problems. The corps at this time had been fighting for a period of time, and you might expect under those circumstances there would be problems with behavior, with equipment, with the appearance of soldiers. It's a continual effort of the command to maintain the standards of military discipline within a unit, and this represents an attempt, a continuation, to maintain that level of military discipline.”


Philipps had testified that the SRK was formed from the remnants of the 4th Corps of the JNA. Karadzic showed him a report issued by the command of the 4th Corps in 1991. It said, “An especially big problem is in the poor manning of the commands and units, so with soldiers and officers, which is impacting most heavily on commands classified as 'R' who are carrying out their tasks with the minimum number of men and officers.


“Control and assistance to subordinate units were carried out according to plan, but there were still certain weaknesses such as non-executions of ordered activities by the subordinate commands and the repetition of the same omissions and weaknesses from one control to another.”


The witness commented on the document saying, “This document shows that the corps command was analyzing all the weaknesses and problems that were occurring within the corps and appears to be addressing them … to me this shows effective command and control.”


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: and .



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