French UNPROFOR Officer Takes Stand in Karadzic Trial - October 12, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing date: June 28, 2010


A French UNPROFOR officer stationed in Sarajevo during 1993 testified for the Prosecution in the Karadzic trial on Monday, June 28, 2010. The witness testified under the pseudonym “KDZ185”.


Testimony for the Prosecution


When KDZ185 testified for the prosecutor he said, “I believe that the city was under siege ... And this siege was staged by the Serbian Army, and the objective was to cut off the town and to make sure that it could not obtain any supplies, and therefore this would allow them to put pressure on the Bosnian government to surrender.”


According to the Prosecutor’s summary of KDZ185’s evidence, “Some of the shelling was random and did not appear to target military objects. Shelling of civilian populated areas was not always heavy, but consisted of one or two random rounds. The witness concluded that this was intended to maintain a feeling of terror”


KDZ185 testified that “When you are in a situation whereby you find yourself in a situation where at any time you could be severely hurt or killed by a sniper or by a shell that could fall anywhere in the city, this nurtures this feeling of terror.” He said, “I believe that all those actions which had for a prime objective to terrorize the civilian population had one single objective. They wanted for the civilian population to give up.”


The witness testified that, “I saw two types of artillery shelling. The first type was truly military actions [and] the second type of artillery use was to increase psychological pressure on the population and also on the Bosnian government.” He said, “During the first months I was staying in Sarajevo, I saw that pressure was kept at a high level continuously, and, as I said, the average number of shells was about 1,200 on the city, and that really kept a climate of terror.”


In the summary of KDZ185’s evidence the Prosecutor said, “On 21 March 1993, approximately 2,400 shells were fired, including 400 on the old town of Sarajevo alone. The retaliatory bombardment was preceded by a Bosnian Army attack on the Pale road Serb supply line.”


The witness, however, gave a more nuanced opinion. He said, “this violence peak which I referred to at the end of March happened at a moment when the majority of the Bosnian government was absent because I think they were in New York at that point in time, so we still have to see whether the aim was not on the part of the Bosnians to show that they still had resources left and that they wanted to go to negotiation, but this is just speculation on my part. The only ones who know for sure are the authorities concerned.”


The witness testified that it was possible to “establish a parallel between the negotiations … and greater violence in Sarajevo, probably because one party or the other wanted to show that things had to change and that negotiations were needed.”


The witness testified that the Sarajevo Romanija Corps enjoyed superiority in weaponry around Sarajevo. He said that “Around Sarajevo, there were some 300 heavy weapons of a caliber above 14.5 millimeters, ranging to 152 millimeters, including MRLs, but most of the weapons were artillery guns, anti-tank guns, or 102-millimetre and 152-millimetre guns.”


The witness believed that General Galic exercised tight control over his forces. He described him “as a highly professional military man [who] reported to his command every evening about everything that had happened within the SRK.” He said the forces under Galic’s command “were perfectly controlled” and that “The Army of Republika Srpska was derived directly from the Yugoslav Army. It was based in a culture where there was very little initiative at lower levels in the hierarchy.” The witness based his opinion on information he obtained during a 2009 interview.


According to the prosecutor, the witness also claims that Bosnian-Serb forces shelled a football match in Dobrinja on June 1, 1993 and that they shot indiscriminately at people running across the Sarajevo airport runway at night.


Most of the Damage Concentrated Near the Front Lines


Radovan Karadzic began his cross-examination by asking the witness, “Is it correct that when you first came to [Sarajevo] that most of the damage was registered at the front-line, itself?”


The witness answered, “I think that according to what I saw, the front-line [damage] was rather extensive. If we look at all the damage which had been caused around the airport area, especially, and also around the access to the new town, [but] in the old town it is true that there was less damage.”


In civilian areas away from the front line he said, “Most buildings, and especially modern buildings, bore traces of some fire. There were broken windows, window-panes, which clearly showed that shells had fallen either in the vicinity or on the building itself. But as I said earlier on, since most of the artillery shellings were random, most of the buildings were not completely destroyed; far from that, even.”


Muslim Media War in Sarajevo


The witness agreed with Karadzic’s assertion that “the Muslim side wished to keep Sarajevo in the focus of international attention and present it as a very serious situation”


The witness also agreed that the Muslims had mobile mortars and rocket launchers which they “moved around different parts of the city.” The witness said, “Personally, I did not see this multiple rocket-launcher. I heard it as it fired on several occasions not far from the place where I used to live.”


The witness also agreed with Karadzic that the Muslims “shot in the back of the UN forces, which were on their way to assist in the repair of power supply lines.” The witness said, “I believe that they wanted to prevent the lines from being repaired.”


During his testimony for the prosecution, the witness explained the effect that the lack of electricity had on the civilian population of the city. He said, “The city, especially at night, seemed to be completely dead, given that there was rarely any electricity, as it was one of the means of pressure, namely, to cut off electricity. This means that the city could not be supplied with electricity as well as with heating, for using electricity for heating, and it also means that there was no way electric pumps could be used to supply water in the various dwellings in Sarajevo, which means that at night the city was completely dark and seemed to be totally deserted.”


The witness also testified that the Muslims “would get closer to the UN force positions in order to fire, in the hope that the Serbian Army would not fire back at them since they were positioned in the vicinity of UN installations.”


Karadzic asked the witness if “Muslim forces would open fire when various delegations were there in order to tarnish the reputation of the Serbs?” The witness replied, “That is possible, yes.”


Markale Attack Staged by Muslims


The witness agreed with Karadzic’s claim that “it was in the interests of the Muslim side to dramatize the situation in Sarajevo.” The witness said, “I do believe that in order to make up for their inferiority, in military terms, the Bosnian government would carry out a kind of media war.”


Karadzic followed up and asked, “And for that purpose, they staged various dramatic incidents around the city?” To which the witness replied, “That's what I was told, and I believe that I, too, have witnessed such incidents.”


Karadzic then put it to the witness that “You had one opportunity to eye-witness that a shell targeted a building in Markale, had been fired from Muslim territory, with an error of margin of maximum 300, 400 meters, and it was obvious that the Serbs could not have fired it?”


The witness confirmed, “I did not witness this, this hit, with my own eyes, but I know it reached the courtyard of a residential block not far from the Markale market-place, and there were crater analyses carried out then which, indeed, showed that it was very likely that the shell was fired from a position close to the front-line to the north of the city.” (i.e. Muslim territory)


Karadzic asked the witness, “When was that crater analysis done?” The witness replied, “it was carried out straight away as soon as the UN, the UNPROFOR, heard of it.”


Karadzic followed-up asking, “Is it of any significance that the analysis was done immediately after the event?” And the witness responded, “Yes, indeed, because in this way it could be made sure that there was no meddling with the data on the ground, so that you could have as objective a crater analysis as possible, you couldn't tamper with the evidence.”


Shooting at People on the Runway


Because of the witness’s testimony that the Bosnian Serb Army shot indiscriminately at people running across the Sarajevo airport runway at night, Karadzic asked the witness if the Muslims shot at the runway too. He asked, “Did the Muslims also fire at the runway from Butmir, and did you state so at least on one previous occasion?”


The witness replied, “On the landing strip on the runway, there were some stray shells because the airport was in the very heart of the confrontations between the Serbs and the Muslims. Inevitably, there would be shells landing that could land in the airport area when there was an exchange of fire between the parties.”


Karadzic put the issue to bed when he asked the witness, “Did you state once that by night, it was not possible to distinguish who was a civilian and who was a soldier among the people who were on the runway?” And the witness agreed, “Yes, indeed.”


Musan Topalovic “Caco”


Karadzic asked the witness where “the area of responsibility of the 10th Mountain Brigade [of the ABiH] that was commanded by Caco” was at. The witness said, “Based on the information I had, yes, they were stationed or at least they were on the front-line, as was the case for all Bosnian brigades who were holding the front-line facing the Serb units.”


Karadzic followed-up asking, “Do you agree that his command was at Bistrik (in the old city), about 100 meters from the command of the Egyptian Battalion?” The witness agreed saying, “Yes, his headquarters were, if I remember properly, opposite the barracks where the Egyptian Battalion was based.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you know that he [Caco] is a well-known criminal, almost like his entire staff?” The witness agreed, saying “I knew that he had some issues with the judicial system beforehand, yes.”


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: and



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