Karadzic Testifies as Witness in Hague Trial

05 November 2008 Sarajevo – Former Bosnian Serb political leader and top war crimes suspect Radovan Karadzic has testified as an additional witness for Momcilo Krajisnik’s Defence.

The additional evidence presentation in the case of Momcilo Krajisnik continued before the Appellate Chamber of the Hague Tribunal. Radovan Karadzic, who is charged, by the same Court, with genocide and crime against humanity, appeared in the courtroom as witness.

Krajisnik presented Karadzic’s statement before the examination. The Chamber then admitted the statement. After that the Prosecution cross-examined the witness.

In the mentioned statement Karadzic denied the allegation that Krajisnik was a member of the Wartime Presidency of Republika Srpska, as well as the allegations that he was his close associate and “the second ranking official in Republika Srpska.”
 
Karadzic claims that, besides him, the Presidency consisted of late Nikola Koljevic and Biljana Plavsic, who was convicted, by The Hague Tribunal, for her role in the course of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.
 
“Nobody, except those three members, could participate in making decisions,” Karadzic’s statement indicates. He said the same in the courtroom.
 
The Prosecution alleged that Krajisnik’s name was written in a large number of Presidency meeting notes, asking Karadzic to give an explanation for that.
 
“The notes could not be considered as official Presidency acts. They were made by a person, who did not have any knowledge about high-level administration. I would not pay any attention to those notes,” Karadzic said.
 
The Appellate Chamber noted that the first instance Trial Chamber determined, in the first instance verdict, that Krajisnik was a member of the Presidency, because evidence showed that he had signed some documents on behalf of Karadzic on three occasions.
 
“This is irrelevant, as anyone could sign them, even my secretary. Those were not decisions, but confirmations of appointment of some persons to certain functions,” Karadzic claims.
 
Karadzic denied the fact, previously determined by the first instance Chamber, that Krajisnik played a role in the establishment of crisis committees, wartime commission, regional and municipal structures, establishment of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS and Territorial Defence.
 
He did say that, besides having been the Chairman of the National Assembly, Krajisnik was involved in peace negotiations. 
 
“Krajisnik was not obsessed with ethnic separation from Muslims. This was not the policy of the Serb leadership,” Karadzic said.
 
When asked by the judges what influence Krajisnik had during the course of the war, Karadzic said that he did not have any responsibility, but he did have “reputation”.
 
The judges also wanted to hear Karadzic’s comment on the conclusion, made by the first instance Chamber, that Karadzic and Krajisnik were the ones who rendered a decision to appoint Ratko Mladic as the commander of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS.
 
“He did not play any role in that. The decision was mine. When I was appointed as Presidency member, I could have appointed Mladic, but I let the Parliament do it instead. Mr. Krajisnik had nothing to do with it. Mladic was recommended to me. I was told that he was a decent officer, strict, moral and tough… All delegates accepted my proposal,” Karadzic explained.
 
The Defence had a chance to additionally examine this witness. Momcilo Krajisnik and his special advisor for the issue of joint criminal enterprise, Alan Dershowitz, used this right. 
 
Answering their questions, Karadzic said that Krajisnik was known as a man who “raised mutual understanding with Muslims”, adding that he persisted in his efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.  
 
“Was he, in any way, involved in some military operations?” Dershowitz asked.
 
“Absolutely no,” Karadzic claims.
 
Krajisnik was sentenced, by a first instance verdict, to 27 years’ imprisonment, but he filed an appeal, claiming that he did not have “a competent defence”. After having been arrested in Belgrade in July, Karadzic has been held in the Detention Unit in Scheweningen, awaiting the start of his trial.

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