Witness in Karadzic Trial Says Bosnian-Serb Government Tried to Prevent and Punish Crimes
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - April 4, 2012


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Summary of the July 13, 2010 Hearing In The Radovan Karadzic Trial


The trial of Radovan Karadzic resumed on the 13th of July with the continued testimony of 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.


Intent of the Bosnian-Serb Government


Radovan Karazic put it to the witness that “some experts of the OTP suggest that the crimes which were being committed in our civil war were something that the government favored, or in the very least it did not exert any efforts to stop them.”


Mandic responded that “The government was extremely worried over what was going on in the field.” He said, “The government was doing everything in its power, when all the communications in the field had been severed, both road communications and telecommunications, to prevent any developments that were detrimental to both the Serbian and the Muslim and the Croat people there.” He said, “The Serbian government never had criminal intent, especially not the government where I was a member.”


Mandic confirmed Karadzic’s claim that “Serbian crisis staffs were activated on the 4th of April [1992], after the proclamation of general mobilisation which had been declared by the Croat and Muslim portion of the Presidency” but that “the government was not happy with the crisis staffs.”


Mandic told the court that “there was an initiative launched by the government for [the crisis staffs] to be abolished” because “the government had no way of controlling them”. He said the crisis staffs were unable "to control the situation in the field, or they did wrongly what they had been tasked to do.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “Would it be fair to say that we, at the central level, had remained without anything and that we started creating our state from scratch? As they now put it, it was a green field enterprise?”

Mandic agreed saying, “I have confirmed this many times, and when I talked about the Ministry of Justice, I said that I didn't even have a pencil or paper, let alone anything else.”


He told the court, “When the war broke out, the government was located on temporary premises. The name of the building was Kikinda. This was on the outskirts of Pale. And then some 10 or 15 kilometres away, in Hotel Bistrica at Jahorina. This hotel had been built for the Olympic Games in 1984. We did not have the proper conditions for our work in that hotel. For example, my ministry had only two hotel rooms at its disposal. We transformed these two hotel rooms into offices. We had an old, used Golf car and five or six employees. I spoke more than once about how we started collecting paper and pencils in order to draft bills for the Assembly.”


In the beginning of the war, the Bosnian-Serb government didn’t even know what was happening in the field. Karadzic showed the witness minutes from a meeting of the Bosnian-Serb National Security Council dated May 24, 1992 (exhibit D410).


The document said, “It has been determined that the Ministry of the Interior should prepare a comprehensive analysis for the government regarding the security situation and the state of law and order in the Serbian Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina … the question of crime should be dealt with, in particular, as well as the protection of private and social property, mistreatment of citizens of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as other questions that are important as regards the status of people in the Serb republic … It was concluded that the overall situation in the republic should be recorded as soon as possible. To that end, groups of ministers would be formed which would have direct insight in various municipalities and would prepare reports and suggest measures to be undertaken.”


Mandic confirmed Karadzic’s suggestion that this document was evidence that “the government, on the 24th of May, did not have insight into what was going on in the territory of Republika Srpska.”


Prevention and Punishment of Crimes


Karadzic showed the witness (exhibit D407) the instructions issued by the Bosnian-Serb government to the Crisis Staffs on April 26, 1992.


The document said, “The Crisis Staff shall create conditions for the work of the international peace-making and humanitarian organisations and ensure the safe passage of humanitarian aid convoys to their final destinations.”  They were directed to “Treat extremely humanely and in accordance with the International Red Cross towards the non-combat populace and the wounded, and act humanely and in accordance with the laws of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina towards the POWs.” And it said “War profiteers, looting mobs and the like, are to be arrested and handed over to the investigating judicial organs of the Serbian republic.”

After showing the document to the Witness Karadzic asked, “You are aware of these efforts of the government; right?” and Mandic replied, “Yes. We talked about this earlier, when I was examined here by both the Prosecutor as well as you, yourself.”

Mandic told the court, “I know that you [Radovan Karadzic] issued an order to the police and judiciary and military organs to allow unhindered passage to all international and local humanitarian organizations in the territory that was under Serb control at that time. There was an order of yours to that effect.” Karadzic then produced a copy of the order which was admitted as exhibit D408.

Mandic confirmed Karadzic’s assertion that “the government prohibited any buying or selling of real estate” during the war in order “to prevent the misuse of abandoned property.” And a document (exhibit D418) was admitted which confirmed that policy.

Karadzic also showed the witness a set of instructions issued to the Bosnian Serb police (exhibit D425) on June 8, 1992 by Dobro Planojevic the former Head of the RS Intelligence-Security Service.

The document said, “Over the past two months, since the war broke out in the territory of the former Bosnia-Herzegovina, there has been a considerable increase in the commission of crimes, property-related crimes, and war profiteering.” It said, “We take this opportunity to emphasize that the civilian population and prisoners of war should be treated in strict compliance with the regulations of international law of war.” But that “in these wartime conditions you will encounter many obstacles in your battle against crime, and you will sometimes be unable to take adequate measures. In such cases, all findings should be properly recorded in the form of official notes so that necessary measures or criminal prosecution could be taken subsequently.”

After reading the document Mandic said, “He is speaking about war profiteering and other crimes, and also the commission of war crimes, and he is asking for persons who committed war crimes to be handed over to the judiciary or the military police. He is also asking for documentation of criminal activity, as he says, both of groups and individuals, and also he's demanding their urgent arrest.”

Mandic confirmed Karadzic’s view that the instructions said “if you cannot prosecute, then provide proper documentation and matters will be dealt with later”

He then asked, “Do you know that to this day in Bosnia-Herzegovina, proceedings are underway on the basis of criminal reports that were filed by our organs during the war?”  And the witness replied, “I don't know whether this is still underway, but I know that proceedings were carried out for a long time on the basis of these reports, considerably after the crimes were committed.”


Karadzic then turned his attention to Exhibit P1090, an order issued by the Bosnian-Serb Central Commission for the Exchange of Captured Persons.

The document said, “All women whose captivity, either deprivation of freedom, is not associated with war operations so is not connected to war operations, children and minors up to 16 years old, old, infirm, and sick persons, should be immediately released and ensured safe movement according to their expressed wishes, without any conditions being set to them or exchanges … Persons taken prisoners and persons deprived of liberty, against whom criminal proceedings have been instituted, shall not be subject of this order, but the provisions of the Criminal Code shall be applicable.”

Mandic explained the order saying, “According to this order, only released unconditionally were women and children and old and infirm people, whereas able-bodied men fit for battle were not released” He said, “Able-bodied males were examined by the competent organs, whether civilians or military; namely, by the police or by the military police. And if they hadn't violated the laws or war or participated in the fighting, they would be released and/or exchanged.”

Karadzic asked the witness whether you could tell if somebody was a combatant based on whether they wore civilian clothes or not and the witness said, “quite a few of the members of the Muslim Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina did not have uniforms.” He said the military status of the captured men “was investigated by the competent security services. It was up to them to establish whether someone had participated in the fighting, or [if they were] just civilian who just happened to be in his house.”

Karadzic ended the day by asking the witness, “Do you remember that the opposing side often sabotaged exchanges, or they brought an inadequate number of the wounded, or they brought their civilians to be exchanged for fighting men?” And the witness confirmed that “there had been problems with exchange of prisoners.”


A Complete Transcript of this Hearing is Avaliable at: http://ictytranscripts.dyndns.org/trials/karadzic/100713IT.htm

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