acknowledges that Serb officials were responsible for ethnic cleansing in 
Bosnia, but says he was not involved.  By Adin Sadic in The Hague










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Genocide indictee acknowledges that Serb officials were responsible for ethnic 
cleansing in Bosnia, but says he was not involved.

By Adin Sadic in The Hague

?Nobody has the right to force one ethnic community to leave? I see this order 
for the first time here, and I don?t know why he did that.?

The document that so shocked the former Bosnian Serb politician and genocide 
indictee Momcilo Krajisnik was a November 1992 order to the Drina Corps of the 
Army of the Republika Srpska, VRS, to take territory in the Drina Valley. 

?Cause as many losses as possible to the enemy,? reads the directive, which 
bears the name of the man who is now the Hague tribunal?s top fugitive, VRS 
chief General Ratko Mladic.

?Force them to surrender and force the Muslim population to leave the area of 
Cerska, Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde,? it goes on.

Having chosen to speak as a witness in his own war crimes trial, Krajisnik is 
currently being cross-examined by Hague prosecutors. It was them who showed him 
the order, which he acknowledged was evidence that Mladic illegally ?ordered 
ethnic cleansing?.

But Krajisnik continued to argue this week that he personally played no role 
whatsoever in such crimes, claiming that the VRS acted largely independently of 
the Bosnian Serb political authorities during the war.

Prosecutor Mark Harmon sought to illustrate a link between VRS operations and 
an infamous set of strategic objectives proclaimed by the Bosnian Serb 
president Radovan Karadzic at a May 1992 session of the Bosnian Serb assembly. 
Krajisnik presided over the assembly as parliamentary speaker.

The objectives laid out by Karadzic ? who is also currently on the run from the 
tribunal ? included separating Serbs from Bosnia?s Muslim and Croat 
communities, dissolving the border between Serbia and Serb-held territory in 
Bosnia along the Drina river, establishing new Serb borders along the Una and 
Neretva rivers and setting up a corridor between the Krajina and Serb-held 
territory elsewhere in Bosnia.

The prosecution presented the court with a series of VRS documents suggesting 
that the army?s own ?war objectives? included eliminating the border along the 
Drina, establishing a new border on the Una, taking control of the Neretva 
river valley and establishing a corridor in the Sava valley, which would link 
the Krajina with other Serb-held territories.

But Krajisnik insisted that the VRS acted independently and set its own goals, 
and that any parallels between those aims and the objectives set out by 
Karadzic ? including even the use of the same vocabulary to describe them ? 
were ?just a coincidence?.

Asked whether the November 1992 order pertaining to the Drina Valley was also 
consistent with the strategic goal of separating Serbs from other ethnic 
communities, Krajisnik protested, ?No! That is not true!?

?Driving out of population, resettlement of population cannot be connected with 
any of the strategic goals,? he added.

He told the court that the army set itself objectives that were to be secured 
by force. But the aims laid out by Karadzic before the assembly, he said, were 
?totally different and clearly strictly political, and meant to be achieved 
through negotiations?.

While Karadzic was the supreme commander of the VRS, he added, the president 
never signed an order setting out his strategic goals as war objectives, which 
would have been necessary for them to be considered as such.

Harmon sought to suggest a rather different relationship between the Bosnian 
Serb political and military authorities by presenting the accused with a 
wartime document from the main staff of the VRS, concerning the army?s combat 
readiness and discussing the ?strategic objectives of our war?.

The document makes reference to ?general guidelines which were set to the VRS 
and defined by the president, the assembly and the government?. It also says 
that Karadzic, as the army?s supreme commander, ?orally assigned numerous tasks 
to the VRS which are of significant importance for the protection of Serb 

The two main tasks discussed in this context are ?to defend Serb people from 
Muslim and Croat genocidal forces? and to ?liberate territories which 
historically belong to Serbs?.

Krajisnik replied that this was ?military terminology? and had nothing in 
common with the strategic goals presented before the Serb assembly.

Harmon also presented the court with a speech given by Karadzic in 1992, in 
which the president said that every single member of the supreme command ? 
described by him as a collective body ? was informed frequently and in detail 
about military objectives and about the results of military operations.

Karadzic stated at the time that ?every battle is politically endorsed on the 
basis of the interests of the Serb people and approved by the highest 
authorities of the Republika Srpska?.

In light of this speech and the prosecution contention that Krajisnik himself 
was a member of the collective supreme command referred to by Karadzic, Harmon 
said it was clear that the accused was well informed about ongoing and future 
operations of the VRS during the war.

But Krajisnik said the assembly he presided over was not told about such things 
and insisted that he was not a member of any collective supreme command, or 
?war presidency?, as this kind of body has been referred to at other times in 
the trial. In fact, Krajisnik has denied the existence of any such war 
presidency and he told the court this week that the supreme command was 
perceived at the time as consisting of Karadzic alone.

Krajisnik added that his own wartime role in relation to the army was limited 
to attending a few consultative meetings, where Mladic and other senior 
commanders were mainly interested in talking about logistical support.

Asked several times if the civilian authorities ever questioned the goals for 
which they were expending large amounts of money and human potential, Krajisnik 
claimed, ?I never heard discussion of military strategic issues, just requests 
for total mobilisation, for food, fuel and ammunition.?

Presiding Judge Alphons Orie appeared unimpressed with such explanations. ?I 
cannot accept that the civilian authorities did not mind whether their army 
will end up in northern Italy, central Bosnia or in the middle of Kosovo,? he 
said. ?It is hard for me to understand that political leaders just sit there 
and watch.?

Krajisnik also sought to distance himself from the brutal Serb-run detention 
camps that existed in Bosnia during the war and which feature heavily in the 
indictment against him.

Prosecutor Alan Tieger put it to Krajisnik that the whole world was aware of 
the existence of these detention centres in 1992, following footage broadcast 
by a British television news organisation ITN of emaciated prisoners at the 
notorious Omarska facility. He used numerous contemporaneous documents to argue 
that senior Serb politicians, local officials and military figures organised 
the camps as a tool for ethnic cleansing, to help create an ethnically 
homogeneous Republika Srpska. 

?I did not know about the existence of concentration camps, and as an assembly 
speaker I was not responsible for them,? Krajisnik replied. 

He added that a deputy had asked for the issue to be put on the assembly agenda 
following the release of the ITN footage and claimed that he personally had 
demanded an official report about the alleged existence of such camps. But the 
report, he said, did not arrive in time for the next assembly session.

?Whoever was not interested in this, he committed a crime, for sure,? said 
Krajisnik, insisting that the responsibility was not his.

Elsewhere in his testimony this week, he declared proudly, ?I was the only 
Bosnian politician who publicly opposed the ethnic cleansing.?

Prosecutors were also keen this week to discuss the Bosnian Serbs? stated 
strategic objective of dividing Sarajevo along ethnic lines.

To this end, Tieger quoted from Origins of a Catastrophe, a book by the former 
United States ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman. Zimmerman writes that 
the Bosnian Serbs? wartime strategy was to establish new frontiers by force and 
then to ratify those borders through negotiations.

He recalls Karadzic saying that the Bosnian capital was to be split into Serb, 
Croat and Muslim parts so that the ethnic groups would not have to live or work 
together. He also writes that the Bosnian Serb president described a vision of 
Sarajevo similar to Cold War Berlin, with walls dividing its various sectors.

But Krajisnik insisted that to impute such aims to the Bosnian Serb leadership 
was just plain wrong. ?This is false!? he protested, ?this is a lie!?

He argued that the only division of Sarajevo he himself had ever spoken about 
was to have been a purely administrative ? not physical ? divide.

Tieger also presented Krajisnik with an interview that he gave to the Srpsko 
Oslobodjenje newspaper during the war, in which he spoke of a future in which 
?united Serb states? would have Belgrade as their capital. 

?I have to be honest and say what I think for the first time publicly,? 
Krajisnik apparently added in the interview. ?Sarajevo should be a Serb town 
completely, and Muslims should find a new capital for themselves.?

Krajisnik accused Tieger of taking his words out of context and said that he 
didn?t even recall having made such statements. ?Even if I said that, it was 
not clever,? he said.

Adin Sadic is an IWPR intern in The Hague.



The chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, has decided to withdraw the indictments 
against three Croatian journalists charged with contempt.

She says that ?in the interest of justice and judicial economy? she?s chosen 
not to proceed against Stjepan Seselj, Domagoj Margetic and Marijan Krizic, who 
had been all charged in connection with revealing the identity, statement and 
testimony of a protected prosecution witness in the case against Tihomir 
Blaskic, former wartime commander of the Bosnian Croat forces, who was 
sentenced to nine years in prison by the Hague court for war crimes. 

The witness was Stjepan Mesic, now president of Croatia, who was an opposition 
politician in 1998 at the time and gave his testimony behind closed doors.

However, one Croatian journalist, Josip Jovic, the editor of Slobodna 
Dalmacija, will still face the contempt charges. He is alleged to have been the 
first of the four to have revealed Mesic?s name, in his newspaper in 2000. 

The prosecution motion to withdraw three of the cases follows a decision by 
judges denying the prosecutor the right to present one unified case against all 
four journalists.

The judges had said that the allegations against the three occurred at a 
different time from that of Jovic ? four years later ? and at a different 
newspaper, and were not subject to the exactly the same court orders.  

Del Ponte says that her office is ?under increasing pressure? from judges to 
?limit the scope of its prosecutions? and to ?exercise greater prosecutorial 

She admits that the evidence for the three journalists is ?to a large degree 
duplicative of the case against Jovic?. 

And she argues that it would only be when presented as a joint trial ?as a 
continuation of the criminal behaviour initiated by Jovic ? [that] the acts 
?.of Seselj Krizic and Margetic ?display their true colours and full 

Judges still have to rule on the matter. The court is under pressure to 
streamline cases in advance of a UN-set deadline to complete its work, 
including appeals, by 2010.



Dragan Zelenovic, the Hague fugitive who was arrested in Russia last August and 
finally arrived at the tribunal via Sarajevo last week, has declined to enter a 
plea on war crimes charges relating to rapes in the town of Foca during the 
Bosnian war.

Zelenovic told judges during his initial appearance before the Hague court that 
he did not yet have a defence counsel and that he was looking into securing the 
services of a lawyer he met in Bosnia. He was represented at the initial 
hearing by duty counsel Tjarda Eduard van der Spoel.

Asked about his health, his transfer to The Hague and his treatment in 
detention there, Zelenovic said he had no complaints to make.

Following this first appearance, the accused has a further 30 days before he 
must formally respond to the indictment against him. The document contains 
allegations that, as a military police sub-commander and paramilitary leader in 
Foca, he was involved in a series of sexual assaults, including the gang rape 
of a 15-year-old girl. 

Prosecutors have requested that his case be transferred to the Bosnian courts, 
as part of plans to wind down the Hague tribunal's work over the next few 



Lawyers representing the former Croatian Serb leader Milan Martic have 
requested access to statements taken during an internal inquiry into the death 
of Milan Babic, the high-profile insider witness who committed suicide in the 
tribunal's custody partway through giving evidence in Martic's trial. 

In a submission filed on June 14, the defence team say they want to get hold of 
statements taken during the investigation ? led by the tribunal's vice 
president, Judge Kevin Parker ? from tribunal prosecutor Hildegard 
Uertz-Retzlaff, from Babic's lawyer, Peter Michael Mueller, and from Babic's 
wife and two adult children.

Martic's lawyers note the inquiry's findings that individuals "more familiar" 
with Babic thought he seemed "particularly tired and not quite himself" on the 
last day of his testimony prior to his death. They also point to the findings 
that Babic's son thought his father felt "used" by the prosecution, and that 
Mueller had spoken with the prosecution in the past about the fact that Babic 
might be suicidal. 

The defence counsel argue that having access to statements from the individuals 
in question could help them form arguments concerning the reliability and 
credibility of the evidence that Babic gave in the Martic trial prior to his 

They also say the statements could be relevant to an appeal that they hope to 
file against the trial chamber's rejection of an earlier attempt by them to 
have Babic's testimony removed from the evidence against their client. 

Babic admitted having been responsible for crimes during his time as a senior 
Croatian Serb politician in the early Nineties. He also testified in trial 
proceedings against the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and the 
Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik. 

Martic's lawyers point out in their latest submission that they are content for 
the statements that they seek to be redacted prior to being handed over, in 
order to remove information concerning the whereabouts of Babic's family, who 
are in hiding. 

Also this week, Martic's defence team asked judges not to insist on a 
recently-published trial schedule which would see prosecutors concluding their 
case by June 20 and the defence making their opening statement on July 7 and 
starting to present their own evidence on July 10, with various other deadlines 
set in the meantime. 

Complaining of funding problems and a lack of staff, the defence lawyers said 
the timetable does not allow them enough time to complete tasks such as drawing 
up a witness list for their case.



Former Croatian Defence Council, HVO, official Valentin Coric has been granted 
temporary release from the tribunal's custody partway through his trial on war 
crimes charges in order to attend his father's funeral in Bosnia.

During the period of release, from June 14 to June 19, Coric will have to abide 
by a number of conditions laid down by tribunal judges. These include a ban on 
contacting potential witnesses or discussing his case with anyone but his 

Prosecutors say Coric played a key role in the establishment and running of the 
military police wing of the HVO, which ran civil and military affairs in 
Croat-dominated portions of Bosnia. 

He is charged along with five other former HVO officials ? Jadranko Prlic, 
Bruno Stojic, Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic and Berislav Pusic ? in 
connection with alleged ethnic cleansing of non-Croats, especially Muslims. 
Crimes listed on the indictment against them include murders, rapes and mass 

Prosecutors began presenting their case against the six men in April.



Lawyers representing five Serbian and Yugoslav officials charged with war 
crimes in Kosovo in 1999 have failed in a bid to have their trial postponed 
following a violent incident during a recent fact-finding mission. 

An attempt by members of the defence team for former Yugoslav army chief of 
staff Dragoljub Ojdanic to visit the village of Krushe e Vogel/Mala Krusa in 
Kosovo on May 25 led to a confrontation between local residents and police. A 
number of people were injured. 

But the judges hearing the case said they were not convinced by defence 
arguments that under the circumstances they were unable to prepare for trial. 
UNMIK's inability to provide proper security on this particular visit did not 
necessarily mean that they couldn't do so in future, the judges argued. 

As evidence that UNMIK is committed to assisting the defence teams, they 
pointed to a letter from a senior UN official in Kosovo to Ojdanic's counsel 
setting out requirements for any further visits, including the provision of a 
detailed itinerary several days in advance. 

Ojdanic and his co-defendants are charged with playing key roles in a campaign 
of ethnic cleansing directed against Kosovo's Albanian population in 1999. The 
crimes listed in the indictment against them include a massacre of over 100 men 
and boys in a house in Krushe e Vogel/Mala Krusa, allegedly carried out by 
Serbian and Yugoslav security forces in March 1999.



Dario Kordic and Zoran Zigic ? each sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment for war 
crimes in separate proceedings at the Hague tribunal ? have been transferred to 
Austria to serve out their time.

As a leading Bosnian Croat political figure during the war, Kordic was found by 
Hague judges to have instigated and ordered crimes against Muslim civilians in 
central Bosnia, including persecutions, murder, plunder and wanton destruction. 
He played an instrumental role in ordering the attack on the village of Ahmici 
in April 1993 during which more than 100 people were massacred.

He was taken into tribunal custody in October 1997 and his trial ? including an 
appeal ? finished in December 2004.

Zoran Zigic served as a reserve police officer in Bosnia's Prijedor 
municipality during the war years. Judges found that he visited the notorious 
Serb-run Keraterm, Omarska and Trnopolje detention camps there in order to 
beat, torture and kill prisoners. 

Zigic arrived in The Hague in April 1998 and his sentence was affirmed by 
appeals judges at the tribunal in February 2005.

Following the transfer of Kordic and Zigic towards the end of last week, 
Austria now holds four individuals convicted of war crimes by the Hague 
tribunal. The other countries currently hosting people convicted in The Hague 
are Germany, Spain, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France and the 
United Kingdom.

A recent audit of the United Nations detention unit in The Hague noted 
difficulties faced by the tribunal in getting third countries to receive 
prisoners convicted of war crimes. The report said those convicted have to wait 
on average over 200 days to be transferred to serve out their sentence.

Issues arising as a result were found to include security problems, strained 
relations with other detainees still awaiting a judgement and difficulties for 
those who have been sentenced in trying to plan for the future. 



The former Serb paramilitary commander Dragan Vasiljkovic, better known as 
Captain Dragan, has lost his appeal before the Australian High Court against 
proceedings to extradite him to Croatia to face war crimes charges. 

Vasiljkovic, who testified in the trial of former Yugoslav president Slobodan 
Milosevic in The Hague in 2003, had been working as a golf instructor in Perth 
prior to his arrest by Australian police on January 20 this year.

He has denied allegations that he was responsible for war crimes, including 
killings, against civilians and prisoners of war during the conflict in Croatia 
in the early Nineties.

Full reasons were to be published later for the June 15 decision by High Court 
judges to reject Vasiljkovic's appeal.

Barrister Brad Slowgrove, who has represented Vasiljkovic, told The Australian 
newspaper that there were still options open to the former paramilitary, 
including arguing that Croatia's extradition request does not conform to the 
Geneva conventions.

A hearing will be heard in Vasiljkovic's case in a Sydney court on July 12.



The likelihood of the trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor taking 
place in The Hague moved a step closer this week, when the United Kingdom 
agreed, in principle, to have Taylor serve his sentence in Britain if convicted.

Taylor has been held in detention since March in Freetown, where the Special 
Court for Sierra Leone has charged him with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes 
against humanity, including responsibility for murder, rape and the use of 
child soldiers. He has pleaded not guilty. 

The court requested that the trial venue be moved to The Hague, where the court 
would make use the facilities of the International Criminal Court. They cited 
?concerns about the stability in the region?, where some countries, including 
Sierra Leone and Liberia, have only recently emerged from civil wars.

The Netherlands had agreed to host the trial, on condition that another country 
would provide a prison for Taylor, if he were convicted. 

The UK offer still requires legislation to be passed. And a resolution at the 
United Nations Security Council to enable the Netherlands to accept the trial 
in its national jurisdiction is still under discussion.

The final decision rests with the court?s president, George King.

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These weekly reports, produced since 1996, detail events and issues at the 
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Tribunal Update, produced by IWPR's human rights and media training project, 
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