Prosecutor Examines Mandic - October 29, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson

Hearing date:
July 1, 2010


For the first time in the Radovan Karadzic trial the Prosecutor spent an entire day examining one of the witnesses. With every previous witness the Prosecutor read a short summary of the witness’s evidence, asked a couple of preliminary questions, and then it was for Karadzic to cross-examine the witness.


On July 1st, Prosecutor Alan Tieger spent the day questioning Momcilo Mandic. Mandic was the assistant minister of interior for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 until April 1992. After the outbreak of the conflict, Mr. Mandic was, for a short period, served as a deputy to Mr. Mico Stanisic for the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, before becoming the minister of justice for Republika Srpska on 12 May 1992. From December 1992 to 1994, Mr. Mandic served as the director of the Bureau of Republika Srpska in Belgrade.


Pressure from Political Parties on Police Appointments


Tieger questioned Mandic about the time he spent serving in the BH interior ministry before the war. Tieger put his case to the witness that “All of the parties, the SDS, the SDA, and the HDZ, attempted to ensure (police) selections on the basis of ethnicity; correct?”


The witness agreed with the proposition. He said, “the winning parties who were in a collation, the Serbian Democratic Party, the SDA and the HDZ, at the republican level, at least as far as the Ministry of Police is concerned, had agreed about the distribution of senior posts. The first man in the police was to be a Muslim, the second man a Serb, and man number three was to be a Croat. And the same system applied in public security and in state security. As for districts and municipalities, it was agreed that in a district or a municipality where one ethnic community is in the majority, a member of that ethnic majority would be head of the police. A member of the second-largest community would be police commander, and the third ethnic community would provide the chief of the Crime Department. And that was the system in all of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”


The witness said that the parties made unreasonable demands. He explained that “there were maximalist demands, and that happened with the SDS at certain times and with the SDA and the HDZ. I don't mean the narrow circle of leadership. I mean party leaders on the local level, in districts where, for the most part, individual party leaders were pushing their own people to various positions.”


The prosecutor asked the witness, “At some point, did you raise the issue or suggest the possibility before your MUP colleagues of arresting both Dr. Karadzic and Izetbegovic in order to forestall ethnic tensions?”


Mandic told the prosecutor, “That was just a conversation, thinking aloud, between me and (BH Interior Minister) Alija Delimustafic, knowing that we must do something, because we could no longer stand all that pressure and all that was going on in the police, in the Ministry of the Interior. It was said more in jest than seriously. I knew very well what was possible and what was not, and we didn't mean it, of course. But that there were suggestions like that, yes, it was true.” 


Radovan Karadzic’s Role in the Pressure


Mr. Tieger asked the witness, “Wasn't Dr. Karadzic insistent that the SDS nominees to the positions that Dr. Karadzic believed the SDS was entitled to actually be implemented and those people be put in place?”


The witness explained Karadzic’s role saying, “President Karadzic would forward to me suggestions and requests made by party leaders at local level.” But he said, “I never understood this to be personal pressure on the part of Mr. Karadzic for particular jobs.”


He explained that, “When the inter-party agreement (on the appointment of police personnel) was not being honored, and when we, in the police, at the level of the Ministry of the Police, could not carry this through, then we asked the head of the party, the leadership of the party, to have this resolved at the level of the presidents of the ruling parties, Mr. Alija Izetbegovic, Mr. Radovan Karadzic, and Mr. Mate Boban, because these were crucial positions, key positions, in the police. Karadzic intervened only when we, within the police, were not able to resolve that.”


The prosecutor put it to the witness that “Dr. Karadzic got quite involved in this process; isn't that right?” And the witness denied it saying, “Well, as far as appointments in the police are concerned, no.” He said, “Dr. Karadzic never interfered, nor did he ever ask for individual people to be given individual posts.”


The prosecutor said, “I wasn't suggesting that Mr. Karadzic knew, from the moment he assumed the position of president of the SDS, every potential candidate in every municipality without checking. So as you've indicated, local officials would be in contact with Dr. Karadzic and he would relate to you who the candidates should be?”


The witness said, “He just received these suggestions from these local people. But for the most part, we observed what had been set out at the very beginning, what kind of personnel policy was established in the MUP; that it should be longstanding policemen; that he should have a university degree; and that he was fit for that position. Dr. Karadzic never told me something like, ‘That person does not meet the formal requirements, he's a criminal,’ or, ‘He does not have the right kind of degree, but nevertheless appoint him to that position.’ No.”


The Establishment of the Bosnian-Serb MUP


The Bosnian-Serb MUP came into existence on March 31, 1992. The witness explained to the court that “After the adoption of the Constitution of the Serbian Republic Bosnia-Herzegovina [and] once formal requirements [were] met for the establishment of the Serbian MUP, [and] after the Law on Internal Affairs of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina came into effect” that he “sent a dispatch on the establishment of the Serbian MUP.”


The prosecutor asked the witness, “And in doing so, you were acting on instructions from the political leadership of the Serb people; correct?”


Mandic explained, “I acted following by the decisions of the Assembly, the Law on Internal Affairs, and the Cutileiro Plan adopted in Lisbon, the so-called Sarajevo Agreement. The political leadership at that time was not aware of that dispatch. They were somewhere abroad in Europe, attending negotiations. But since the legal requirements had been met, that is, eight days had elapsed from the publication of the Law on Internal Affairs in the ‘Official Gazette,’ and I was informed of that by Minister Velibor Ostojic, the legal requirements for sending that dispatch, in other words, the establishment of the Serbian MUP had been met.”


Radical Statements Made By Bosnian-Serb Politicians


The Prosecutor put several extremist statements made by Bosnian-Serb politicians to the witness and asked him to speculate on their meaning or significance.


The witness said, “Your Honour, I said to Mr. Tieger, and I repeat that once again, and I said it in the Stanisic case, among the ranks of deputies, among the Serbian people in the Joint Assembly, and in the Serbian Assembly, too, there were some right-wing persons, nationalists, who advocated, well, a state of the Serb people without other peoples and such-like. But it seems to me that that kind of thing can happen in any country in the world, any nation in the world, any assembly in the world.” He said, “I'm sure that as for the government -- as for official meetings of the government, such a tone was never used, and nothing like that was said about other peoples living in Bosnia-Herzegovina while I was in government.”


The prosecutor also showed the witness excerpts of some Bosnian-Serb politicians making extremist statements at a rally in 1994, and the witness said, “I've been trying to tell Mr. Tieger that in 1993/1994, I lived and worked in Belgrade, and I am not at all familiar with the political circumstances in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who was right-wing or not, where rallies were organized, and who participated in all these events. I think it's really superfluous for me to repeat that as far as these years are concerned, I can be of no use either to the OTP or the Defence or the Trial Chamber.”


Karadzic objected saying, “What is this all about? Who is on trial here? What do I have to do with this? I mean, there are a million and a half Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everyone was free to say what they liked. Mr. Tieger can show any number of documents where people expressed extreme views. That's a matter of freedom. We have to work on the basis of documents, the Assembly, the government. Now, based on informal conversations between free men, who have the right to have extremist views, I am being painted in a certain light.”


Karadzic’s legal Advisor Peter Robinson also objected saying, “If we were trying Tony Blair, for example, would something someone had said in the House of Commons during some debate be relevant at all to what Mr. Blair had acted or what he had thought? And I think this is basically the same thing. There are extremists in every government and every assembly, and how does it really advance the Prosecution's case to show to this witness or ask him to comment on comments like that in the trial of Dr. Karadzic. So I would ask that this line of questioning be ruled to be irrelevant and to lack probative value.”


Even Judge Morrison agreed with the defense. He said, “Sorry, Mr. Tieger, to interrupt, but it’s plain that this witness's speculative comments on matters which may be hearsay, if that is the effect of asking him questions about people he didn't know or meetings that he didn't attend, it's -- I speak for myself, but it must be evident to anybody that the probative value of that is extremely small.”


The Prosecutor put his case to the witness that the people making the extremist statements (namely, Radoslav Brdjanin, Nedeljko Prstojevic, and Vojislav Kupresanin) “were not isolated extremists expressing marginalized views, but were, in fact, people embraced by, supported by, and connected to Dr. Karadzic and the rest of the Bosnian Serb leadership.”


The witness told the prosecutor, “I wasn't aware of Karadzic's contacts with his political associates.” And he went on to say, “I know that Momo Krajisnik, and especially Mr. Karadzic, while I was minister and assistant minister, did not advocate a [mono-ethnic] Serbian state. I know that for a fact.”


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: and



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