Karadzic witness: no ethnic cleansing by Bosnian Serb govt

Momcilo Mandic testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic that some individuals carried out ethnic cleansing of the non-Serbian population in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, but that they did not do it on behalf of the Bosnian Serb government.

Mandic, the former minister of justice of the RS, was continuing his testimony before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY.

Mandic said the government of Republika Srpska, RS, was informed in the summer of 1992 that “ethnic cleansing of the Serb part of the Ilidza municipality was underway”.

“The government was informed that Nedeljko Prstojevic, president of the Serb municipality of Ilidza, fired some Muslim workers and did not guarantee their safety. I was tasked with talking to him. I told him to stop, because the legal state should not be blocked and people should not be fired just because they were not Serbs.

“I explained to him this was the government’s attitude and he could not ask for an ethnically clean state,” said Mandic on his fourth day of testifying at the ICTY.

Karadzic, the former RS president, is on trial for participation in a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of permanently removing Bosnian Muslims and Croats from the parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina claimed by Serbs by committing genocide and crimes against humanity.

The indictment alleges that members of the Bosnian Serb leadership, the RS Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Republika Srpska Army and paramilitary units from Serbia took part in the joint criminal enterprise.

Mandic repeated an earlier statement that many members of Serbian paramilitary groups arrived in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. He added that Biljana Plavsic, former member of the RS Presidency who was sentenced by the Hague tribunal to 11 years in prison, was responsible for their presence.

“Plavsic was not capable of performing her job. She performed it in an exhibitionist way. She wanted to become the people’s leader and become popular during the course of the war. She was like a bridge between Bosnian Serbs who participated in the war in Bosnia and those coming from other countries,” he said.

Prosecutors showed two recordings of meetings held between Karadzic and Plavsic on one side and Zeljko Raznatovic, known as Arkan, on the other. But Mandic said he could not comment on whether the recordings proved the support of Bosnian Serb leaders for paramilitary units.

Raznatovic, the former leader of the “Serbian volunteer guard” or the “Arkan’s Tigers” paramilitary unit, is mentioned in the indictment against Karadzic as a member of the joint criminal enterprise. He was indicted before the tribunal for murder, rape and other inhumane acts, but was killed in Belgrade in 2000.

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