Witness Says Local Bosnian-Serb Authorities Out of Control During First Year of Bosnian War

www.slobodan-milosevic.org - April 6, 2012


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Karadzic Trial Summary for July 15, 2010


Momcilo Mandic's testimony entered its 8th day on July 15, 2010. 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.


Local Bosnian-Serb Authorities Out of Control


Karadzic showed the witness a proclamation of the Bosnian-Serb Presidency (exhibit D92) dated July 26, 1992 which said, “the Serb people, whose Orthodox nature has kept them far from being inhumane, have found a number of traitors among themselves -- inhumane people who are committing inhumane acts, ones that we shall try and punish by law … War has changed some people so much that here are individuals among them who are very keen on other people's property, both Muslim and Serb property. Here we have great political problems. It is an immense blow to our soldiers' morale, which is otherwise excellent, but in any case what hurts them are the robberies and crimes being committed behind their backs while they are fighting.”


The Presidency appealed to the Assembly to “to set up the legally-elected organs of authority, civilian authorities, which should not function as the military authority's rival, but as their partner. Most importantly, one must effectively eliminate para-state and also paramilitary formations. The para-state ones at this stage are even more dangerous, because they can make catastrophic decisions that nobody would even recognize in peacetime, but only cause us great damage in the meantime.”


Mandic confirmed that was the position adopted by Karadzic throughout the war. He said, “You highlighted the problem of the paramilitary formations and the crisis staffs which usurped power, so this was an armed force which was not under the control of any state organs or the army, and the local authorities which were not under the control of the Government of Republika Srpska.”


The witness went on to explain that “The government tried to centralize power because on the ground there were certain breaches of the law, serious ones, especially in relation to the non-Serb population. So we saw that at the proposal of the government, the crisis staffs were abolished. After that, the autonomous regions were disbanded. And these local warlords that you mentioned at this session tried to become part of the rule of law, and they could no longer have their own small armies and administrations on the ground.”


Karadzic also showed Mandic a statement that Branko Djeric made in July 1992 which said, “It is well known that the Government of the Serbian Republic of BiH began constituting itself and working in wartime conditions of the most brutal kind. The government started its work in a complete state of isolation. It was cut off from all sources of communication, ranging from available institutions, services, functions, information, means of equipment, technology and staff. Fighting and other factors have kept the government fully isolated from municipalities for a long period of time.”


Mandic agreed with Djeric’s observation saying “Well, we spoke about this here.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “On the basis of your experience in the administration, in first year of the war, did inexperienced people in the government coupled with the breakdown in communications make chaos unavoidable, chaos that could not be controlled?”


Mandic replied, “In my opinion, no one thought that there would be a war. Once the war started, there were conflicts everywhere, in every part of the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina. So at one point in time, there were armed conflicts throughout, from Una and Sava to Neretva, Trebisnjica, and all the way up there to Mrkonic Grad and Bihac. There was general chaos and commotion. All roads and communications were interrupted, and I think that both the people and the government lost their heads at that point.”


Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you agree that the army could not be set up and become operational on the 19th of May suddenly; it took time to place everything under a single command?”


The witness agreed saying, “The formal conditions for establishing the army were created by 19th of May. However, after that time it took a while to pass the bylaws and implement these regulations on the ground.”


Karadzic showed Mandic a transcript from the 20th session of the Assembly of Republika Srpska held in Bijeljina on 14 and 15 September 1992.


In that transcript Karadzic says: “I must say it often happened that some municipal officials acted unlawfully, in ways that deserved arrest and punishment. This is something we have to emphasize at this Assembly session and perhaps even sanction, and find a way for the Presidency to take a stand in such cases between two sessions of the Assembly. Namely, we should consider ourselves lucky that there have been no executions so far. But in future, there will be arrests and punishment. This Assembly is the legislative body whose duty it is to protect the law; will have to take note of this and give us authorization. Even if we do not declare a state of war, we will have to straighten things out in certain municipalities of vital importance to use vigorous measures


“Let's move on directly to this objective, how to ensure the functioning of the authorities, how to make sure that profiteers and hoodlums do not undermine the authority of the authorities. Believe me, we found chaos in places where there were no authorities. The authorities must have authority, and there can be no compromise. We must put our foot down and tell them to fuck off, use the police, and if you can't use your own police, call us and we'll send a special unit which will make arrests and restore order.”


Mirko Mijatovic is also seen in the transcript echoing Karadzic’s concerns saying, “I would just like to say something very briefly about the functioning of the civilian authorities, where I think the problem lies in many municipalities. The government has, indeed, passed regulations, but we do not have developed mechanisms to implement them. I think that something constructive has to be done in order for that to happen ... contact has to be established with government representatives, at least between people working in the government and those who are on the ground.” He said, “local strongmen are a major problem for us. That is the main problem why the government is not functioning properly.”


After showing the witness the excerpts from the transcript Karadzic asked, “Is that in line with what you knew?” and the witness replied “Yes.”


Karadzic then asked, “If the purpose of government in Republika Srpska was to commit crimes and expel Muslims and Croats, wouldn’t the government be happy that there was chaos on the ground, instead of trying to establish order?”


Mandic replied, “I repeat that the government did not insist on chaos and lawlessness, but, on the contrary, when the Serbian state was established, there was already chaos on the ground, and the government was trying to deal with this situation and introduce the rule of law.”


Karadzic showed the witness a document (exhibit D464) from the interior ministry dated October 21, 1992 in which Ms. Milena Vucic is appointed to the post of republican administrative inspector.


Mandic explained her job saying, “The job involves going to see local authorities and examine the legality of the activity of local government in Republika Srpska.” He said it was necessary to appoint such inspectors “Because regulations were being violated in the domain of local government.”


Karadzic showed the witness minutes from the session of the Presidency of Republika Srpska dated the 30th of November 1992.


Karadizic was quoted in the minutes saying, “Commissioners and commissions must be introduced in areas where the civilian municipal authority is not functioning. A commissioner must bear personal responsibility. The question of army apartments and other property must be systematically resolved. Also there were objections to the work of the civilian authorities in the municipalities, and the conclusion was personnel changes are required in cases where this is justified, it must be made possible under the law to dismiss the municipal authorities.”


He then asked the witness, “Is this evidence that in late November, the government was fed up with the self-will of the municipal authorities?” And Mandic replied, “I think we were still in the process of setting up the government authorities at that time, and that individual local authorities were out of control still.”


Steps Taken To Improve Conditions in POW Camps


On August 10, 1992 the Bosnian-Serb MUP issued an edict (exhibit D467) which Mandic explained saying, “The minister of the police is issuing an order that the detention and holding measures shall be applied exclusively within existing regulations, and he tells the chiefs that they shall be personally responsible for the lives of people who are being held and detained. And he is calling for the prevention of any form of abuse in that area. The premises were people are being held or detained must fulfill basic requirements of hygiene and health. Those who do not comply with this order shall be disciplined. And it's signed by Mico Stanisic.”


Karadzic also showed the witness an order (exhibit D101) that he issued on August 20, 1992 “To immediately take steps to improve conditions in all prisons within the Serbian Republic in accordance with the recommendations given by the International Committee of the Red Cross during its visit to these places … every army and police organ of the Serbian Republic is obliged to provide every assistance for members of the International Red Cross, and any violation of the International Humanitarian Law is obliged to carry out a vigorous investigation.”


Not All Muslims Who Left Republika Srpska Were Expelled


Karadzic showed the witness a document (exhibit D471) in which Hasan Cengic and the Party of Democratic Action asks the Muslim population in Trebinje to abandon their homes. The document tells them, “Restitution will be made for all of your property when we achieve our goal and we will know how to put the right price on your sacrifice, a sacrifice that all of the Muslims in the world expect from you.”


Mandic looked at the document and said, “I know that Hasan Cengic, a hodja from Ustikkolina, who was the secretary-general of the Party of Democratic Action, asked his countrymen to move out of certain parts of Eastern Herzegovina in order to achieve his objective; namely, he wanted the international community to be angry at the Serb municipalities.”


Karadzic noted that “after the Muslims left, the SDA, asked that Trebinje be given to them, because Trebinje had been a victim of ‘ethnic cleansing’.”




A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: http://ictytranscripts.dyndns.org/trials/karadzic/100715IT.htm


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