Karadzic questions witness on paramilitary formations

The former minister of justice of Republika Srpska, RS, told the trial of Radovan Karadzic that Bosnian Muslims began creating “paramilitary formations” as early as in 1991, adding they were armed by Croatia and Arab countries.

Momcilo Mandic, in his fifth day of testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, said he knew that Bosnian Muslims had more than 150,000 soldiers in “various paramilitary formations like the Green Berets or the Patriotic League” prior to the general mobilisation that took place in April 1992.

“The police knew about the activities related to the establishment of paramilitary units. Through the mobilisation process, the police forces were put under the command of the Territorial Defence. All military forces, including reserve and military forces and paramilitary formations became united,” said Mandic.

When asked by Karadzic whether arms were brought to Bosnia and Herzegovina with the help of people living in Arab countries in 1992, Mandic said he knew that arming and training of Bosnian Muslim reserve forces was organised with the help of the Zagreb Islamic Community in Croatia.

Hague prosecutors have charged Karadzic, the former RS president, with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war, as well as participation in a joint criminal enterprise with the aim of removing Bosnian Croats and Muslims from the territories claimed by Serbs.

During his cross-examination, Karadzic asked Mandic if the RS government had intended to remove Muslims and Croats from the territories claimed by Serbs. Mandic said he had never seen a document that would support the allegation, adding “there were no such attitudes”.

Mandic said the decision made by the Presidency of the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina on complete mobilisation to be undertaken on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina on April 6, 1992, was proof of the “total failure of the republic”.

“It clearly proves that the pressure applied by political parties caused the failure. By recruiting residents of other countries, members of the Party of Democratic Action divided the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The division was not caused by my letter of April 1, 1992 pertaining to the establishment of a Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, although some people implied this was the reason,” Mandic said.

Mandic said that, “due to the decision on establishment of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, he was accused of war crimes in Sarajevo. The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina rendered a second instance verdict in February acquitting him of charges of crimes against humanity and crimes against civilians committed in Sarajevo and Foca during1992.

“I am sure that the verdict of acquittal was passed down only because of the foreign members of the chamber,” Karadzic said, adding: “Serbs are dissatisfied with the work of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.

Trial Chamber chairman O-Gon Kwon told Karadzic his comment was “totally inappropriate”.

Mandic will continue his testimony on July 13.

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