On the first day of the presentation of introductory arguments, which took place in the absence of the indictee, the Hague Prosecution said it would show that Radovan Karadzic had full control over the Republika Srpska Army and was the architect of the shelling and sniper campaign in Sarajevo.
Speaking about the count in the indictment charging Karadzic with “the sniper and shelling campaign in Sarajevo”, the Prosecution announced that it will seek to prove that “Karadzic controlled the forces which participated in the siege and fashioned the shelling and sniper fire with the aim of terrorizing the city residents”.
“Fear was the only constant of the life in this city,” Prosecutor Alan Tiger said. On the first day of the trial the Hague Prosecution presented its introductory arguments for nearly six hours. It will continue presenting them on Monday, November 2.
The Hague Prosecution will seek to prove that the Serb Democratic Party, SDS, led by Karadzic, worked on establishing “the police and army of the Serb people” from the very beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, “with the aim of ensuring the existence of two strong forces”.
“The police managed many detention camps, such as Omarska detention camp in Prijedor and Kula in Sarajevo. It committed crimes, such as the massacre on Mount Vlasic, when more than 200 civilians were killed… There was a big detention center in nearly all municipalities. Bosnian Croats and Muslims were detained in them. The detention camps were humiliating and brutal, while detainees were exposed
to murder, rape, terror and death,” Tiger said.
Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. He was arrested in Serbia on July 21, 2008. Tiger said that the establishment of the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina Army was enabled by the reform of the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, which had withdrawn its forces from Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier, “leaving tens of commanders and officers, which were under the command of the Bosnian Serbs’ leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
“During the course of the war the JNA and Slobodan Milosevic offered support in terms of personnel, as well as military and financial support for the war conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Back door staff centers of the JNA were formed, which paid salaries to officers,” the Hague Prosecution argued.
Milosevic, former President of Serbia and Supreme Commander of the Yugoslav Army, was arrested in Belgrade in 2001. He was transferred to The Hague, where he was tried, among other things, for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He died on March 11, 2006, before his trial was completed.
In his introductory arguments Prosecutor Tiger paid special attention to the Strategic Goals of the Serb People, which were adopted by the Parliament of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 12, 1992.
The six strategic goals defined the aims of Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first strategic goal was to separate themselves from the two other ethnic communities, namely Croats and Muslims. There was also the goal of establishing borders of “the Serb people’s territories”, between the Drina, Una and Neretva rivers. The last two goals regulate the division of Sarajevo city into a Serb and
Muslim part as well as ensuring access to the sea for the Serb Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The Republika Srpska Army started implementing the goals almost right away. The operation was conducted initially by shelling villages, followed by infantry attacks. As a rule, very little resistance was offered. After that they captured Muslims and Bosnian Croats and transferred them to detention centers and camps,” Tiger said.
He further stated that the exchanges of prisoners from these detention camps were conducted “with the knowledge of higher-instance authorities and the leadership of the SDS”, but the Serb authorities exchanged non-Serb civilians for captured VRS soldiers.
The Prosecution presented a number of VRS documents proving the existence of “coordinated military operations aimed at fulfilling the strategic goals”.
“Karadzic was the de jure and de facto military leader and supreme Commander of the Serb people in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the Prosecutor said.
The Trial Chamber said that if Karadzic fails to appear at the next hearing, a status conference will be held on Tuesday, November 3, at which the further course of the trial “in the absence of the indictee” will be considered.