The trial of the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, has continued with the testimony of the former president of the Serb Municipality of Novo Sarajevo, Milorad Katic.Testifying on Thursday, Katic said that there were no expulsions of non-Serbs from the Sarajevo neighbourhood of Grbavica from March 1993.
Katic said that around 1,500 non-Serbs remained in Grbavica until the end of the war, adding that they had been receiving their pensions and humanitarian aid just like Serbs.
Karadzic is charged with the expulsion of non-Serbs throughout Bosnia, terrorising civilians in Srajevo through a prolonged shelling and sniper attacks, genocide and taking UN peacekeepers as hostages.
According to the witness, “the political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina broke down” in the summer of 1992.
He added that with the formation of the Serb authorities in Novo Sarajevo “crimes were reduced to minimum” thanks to Karadzic, among others.
The witness denied that Karadzic had ever ordered cutting off water and electricity supplies to Sarajevo.
Katic said that the leadership of the Serb Municipality of Novo Sarajevo was dismissed in March 1993 because they failed “to do enough to prevent irregularities in the distribution of humanitarian aid and pensions”.
“I heard many times that non-Serbs were not treated in the same manner as Serbs, that they left Grbavica and that they were persecuted,” he said.
Responding to a question on whether the former authorities committed crimes, Katic said that he had “not heard” about such things.
Luka Dragicevic, the former Assistant Commander for Morale and Religious Issues of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps of the Bosnian Serb army from November 1994, also testified on Thursday.
Dragicevic said that he “does not know of any crimes committed in the zone of responsibility of the Corps” in that period of time.
He said that, acting on the orders from the Command, the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps opened fire only on visible enemy positions in order to minimise civilian casualties.
According to Dragicevic, during the course of the war the Corps defended the Serb neighbourhoods from attacks by the Bosnia army, which used civilian buildings to launch those attacks.
The witness said that the siege of Sarajevo was “existed naturally and that nobody created it”, because Serb neighbourhoods were located around the city center area. He added that the Corps had never deprived Sarajevo citizens of electricity, gas and water.
Dragicevic said that the Muslim side rejected the Army of Republika Srpska’s offers to conduct joint investigations of the incidents in Sarajevo, blaming the Serb side for them.
The witness confirmed that UN peacekeepers were captured as per an order issued by a higher command in order to protect the Bosnian Serb army from the NATO air strikes.
The prosecutor, Jullian Nicholls, dedicated the most part of the cross-examination to attack the credibility of the witness on the basis of orders he issued.
The prosecutor presented Dragicevic with his order to burn down a village in the vicinity of Visegrad in 1992. The witness responded that it was “a hamlet consisting of three houses” and that no civilians lived there at the time, but that the Bosnian army used it as it was near the frontline.
Karadzic’s trial is due to continue on Friday.