INSTITUTE FOR WAR & PEACE REPORTING
Karadzic Urges Reconciliation
Ex-Bosnian Serb leader tells court that falsely
blaming former participants in Bosnia's conflict will make peace more
By Rachel Irwin - International Justice - ICTY
TRI Issue 665, 15 Oct 10
Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic told
the court this week that it is "the duty of all of us" to further
reconciliation efforts in Bosnia.
Karadzic's comments came during his cross-examination
of Bosniak forensic ballistics analyst Mirza Sabljica, who testified in
great technical detail about his investigations of numerous shelling and
sniping incidents that occurred in Sarajevo during the war.
"Let me ask you, as an honest professional, Mr
Sabljica, on the assumption that you believe in the same principles,
namely that those ethnic groups there [in Bosnia] should reconcile,
surely it would be better to reconcile this year [rather than] next?"
asked Karadzic asked, who continues to represent himself.
".It's the duty of all of us to ensure that
reconciliation occurs this year, not next year [or] in a decade."
"I regret it very much that [we were] ever at war,"
responded Sabljica, whose image was digitally distorted for those
outside the courtroom.
"As a person who considers himself Bosnian, I see all
peoples as one," the prosecution witness continued. "Despite ethnic
differences, we have so much in common and with a little more good will
we could make much more progress."
"Do we agree that an erroneously established situation
after any incident and the false blaming of one or another party would
push that reconciliation further away and make it more difficult to
restore peace?" Karadzic asked.
"It's not for the witness to answer this question,"
Judge O-Gon Kwon interjected.
Since the trial started, Karadzic has repeatedly
claimed that the Bosnian Serb army was falsely blamed for the sniping
and shelling campaign that ravaged Sarajevo and left nearly 12,000
people dead. Instead, he has stated on numerous occasions that the
Bosnian government forces targeted their own people in order to court an
Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of
Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, planned and
oversaw the 44-month siege of the city. Karadzic's army is accused of
deliberately sniping and shelling the city's civilian population in
order to "spread terror" among them.
The indictment - which lists 11 counts in total -
alleges that Karadzic was responsible for crimes of genocide,
persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which
"contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of
Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory".
He was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.
Before concluding his cross-examination, Karadzic
asked Sabljica about the February 5, 1994 mortar attack on Sarajevo's
Markale market. The attack - known as the first Markale massacre -
killed some 60 people and injured more than 100.
Karadzic has repeatedly alleged that the massacre was
staged by Bosnian government forces. During the May testimony of a
United Nations official, Karadzic said that bodies shown in video
footage taken after the incident were "dummies and old corpses".
One of Karadzic's former army generals, Stanislav
Galic, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the siege of
Sarajevo, including the first Markale attack. Both trial and appeals
judges in that case determined that the massacre did indeed occur and
that the shell was fired from Bosnian Serb positions.
This week, Sabljica said he arrived at Markale about
an hour after the midday explosion. His report determined that the
projectile had come from a "north north-eastern" direction, territory
that was established in the Galic case to have been held by Bosnian Serb
"Can you tell us to what extent the site had been
changed before you arrived?" Karadzic asked.
"The site was secured by policemen.and the whole place
was sealed off," Sabljica responded. "Everything was scattered with
bloodstains and body parts. I cannot say what it looked like when the
shell fell but I can say what it looked like when I arrived."
"What were the changes to the site that you found?"
"What we found was the state of affairs that we
established, apart from the fact that the dead bodies and the wounded
had been removed..Everything else was the same," Sabljica said.
Karadzic then asked why Sabljica was "excluded" from
follow-up investigations of the site.
"I don't know the answer, I never asked," Sabljica
answered. "We completed our job in those four hours and it was enough
for the report we usually write."
During Sabljica's testimony, Judge Kwon intervened to
enquire after Karadzic's health.
"I was advised you were not feeling well," he asked.
"The court deputy observed you are from time to time dozing. How are
Karadzic, 65, said that he was getting over a cold and
also complained that the courtroom was too chilly.
"I suffer back pain and muscle pain that I have to
deal with somehow," said Karadzic, who appeared flushed.
Judge Kwon said the temperature in the courtroom would
be looked into, and the hearing subsequently ended early on account of
Karadzic's ill health. This is the second time in recent weeks that
judges have adjourned the proceedings because Karadzic was not feeling
Earlier in the week, a victim of sniper fire briefly
testified for the prosecution. According to the indictment, Alen Gicevic
was shot and wounded on March 3, 1995, while traveling on a tram near
the Holiday Inn hotel in Sarajevo.
Gicevic said that living in Sarajevo during the siege
was difficult "in every sense of the word".
"It was a struggle for bare survival," he said. "There
was a shortage of food, electricity, and when there was no electricity,
there was no water either. There were shells, sniper fire, gun fire, and
therefore many glass panes had been broken, and during the winter it was
very hard to heat apartments."
"Did your experience have any psychological effects?"
prosecuting lawyer Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff asked.
Gicevic said that after "one thousand days of such
uncertainty any normal person would be affected", adding, "The brain may
have forgotten, but the body still recalls."
The trial will continue next week.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.