Radovan Karadžić says Hague prosecution’s witness Ahmet Zulić lied in his testimony about surviving a mass murder of Muslims in Sanski Most, Bosnia, in 1992.
The former Bosnian Serb political leader, who is representing himself, asserted during the cross-examination of the witness at the Hague Tribunal that the massacre was “completely made up”, telling the witness that only one body of a Muslim killed from firearms had been exhumed at the location after the war.
Zulić testified yesterday that he was an eyewitness when Bosnian Serb forces made 20 captured Muslims “dig their own graves” at the Partisan cemetery of Kriva Cesta near Sanski Most on June 22, 1992, after which, the witness said, they were murdered with knives and firearms.
Karadžić stands trial accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, committed against Muslims and Croats, as well as of holding international hostages during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“There was not and there is not any other trace of slaughter and killing at the Partisan cemetery of Kriva Cesta, and that’s the only truth,” Karadžić said and asked the witness how it was possible that nobody was put on trial in that case.
Zulić responded by saying that the victims were buried elsewhere, adding that “nothing could be buried at the scene, since it’s a brook”.
He also claimed that Serb officials, including Crisis Headquarters Chief Nedeljko Rašuo and Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) General Milan Daljević were present, when Simo Simetić – a local butcher – murdered the Muslims.
When Karadžić noted that Simetić was with his Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) unit “at the corridor” at the time, the witness replied that “he had two scars from the knife of Simo Simetić” and “a carved cross on his chest”.
As the trial continues, the prosecutors will call their second witness, Sulejman Crnčal, who will testify about crimes which were, according to the indictment, committed by the VRS troops during the siege of Sarajevo 1992-1995.
The trial of the former RS president before the Hague Tribunal began on October 26, 2009 with the prosecution’s opening statement. The accused boycotted the beginning of the proceedings, claiming that the court had not given him enough time to prepare his defense.
Three days after Prosecutor Alan Tiger had finished his opening statement on November 2, the judges made a decision to appoint a defense counsel to Karadžić who would take over if the accused failed to appear in the courtroom.
The proceeding was continued on March 1 with the defense’s opening statement given by Karadžić, while the court appointed counsel Richard Harvey was also present.
The former RS president is charged with two counts of genocide against non-Serbs in Srebrenica and another seven Bosnian municipalities and with nine counts of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts, terrorizing and unlawful attacks on civilians and taking of international hostages during the war since 1992 until 1995.
The indictment focuses on the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina 1992-1995, the terror campaign against civilians during the siege of Sarajevo during the same period, the holding UN personnel hostage in May and June 1995 and the genocide in Srebrenica in July, 1995.
Serbian authorities arrested Karadžić in Belgrade in July 2008 and extradited him to the Hague Tribunal. In his first appearance before the court the former RS president refused to enter a plea, so it was entered into record that the accused pleaded not guilty, according to procedures.