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3 November 2009

Karadzic: Smothering the Truth

Continuing its presentation of introductory arguments the Hague Prosecution told how Karadzic knew about crimes commited in Srebrenica and that he had direct contact with Ratko Mladic in July 1995.

The Prosecution continued presenting introductory arguments before the Hague Tribunal in the absence of indictee Radovan Karadzic, who, once again, declined to appear in court.  

"Karadzic is responsible for one of the black episodes of eliminating Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica and cleaning eastern Bosnia. He was informed by various sources, he had direct contact with Mladic, he knew the population was resettled and people were murdered... He smothered the crimes. He has been doing that until today. The only thing he regretted was the fact that some Muslims managed to escape," Prosecutor Alan Tiger said.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995. He was arrested in Serbia on July 21, 2008. 

Presenting his introductory arguments, Tiger said that the entire Muslim population was deported from Srebrenica in July 1995, more than 7,000 men were killed and more than 5,000 people had been exhumed from mass graves to date.

In the first half of July 1995, organized murder was committed in Kravica, Prahovac, Petkovici, Kozluk, Pilica, at Branjevo farm and in the areas around Srebrenica. In the second half of July sporadic murders were committed at those locations. 

The Prosecutor said that at the time Karadzic denied the crimes committed in Srebrenica and the allegations that people had been killed in the town. He said that this was "yet another step in his denial of what happened there".

"The murder of those people and the mass deportations did not come out of nowhere. They were the result of a firm decision made by the indictee to clean the areas and ensure the subsistence of the Serb state as he imagined it," the Prosecutor said. 

The Hague Prosecution considers Karadzic responsible for the seven directives, "signed by Ratko Mladic with his support". The fourth of the seven directives orders the Drina Corps to "inflict as much loss to the enemy as possible in order to implement the cleansing". 

The Hague Tribunal charges Ratko Mladic, former Commander of the General Headquarters of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, with crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has now been on the run for 13 years.
 
The Prosecution touched upon the count charging Karadzic with taking international personnel hostage in response to NATO air strikes on VRS positions in 1995.

As stated by the Prosecutors, those were "unarmed military observers, who were responsible for establishing communication between the parties to the conflict".

"More than 200 people were taken hostage between May 26 and June 19, 1995. They were tied to radar antenna, forcibly put on those antenna, physically abused... A few were used as humane shields," the Prosecutor said.

At the beginning of his introductory arguments the Prosecutor spoke about the shelling of Sarajevo, claiming that "the indictee was aware" of it, because international representatives warned him about it and the world media reported it.

"Nightfall in Sarajevo. Shells are falling on the city. Another night of shelling. One has to run very fast. Sarajevo is burning - both the city centre and the suburbs...Each projectile hits in a deadly and random manner. There is artillery and mortar fire..." said the narration of one of the recordings shown in court.

The trial of Karadzic is due to continue on November 3, when a status conference will be held. At the conference a decision will be made on whether to appoint a Defence attorney to represent him, because he refuses to appear in court. 

In a letter to the Trial Chamber Chairman, Karadzic said he would appear at the status conference, because he hoped "a solution would be found that would lead to an expeditious and fair trial".

"I assure you I continue working hard on preparing for my trial. I look forward to presenting my introductory arguments as soon as I am ready for that," his letter reads.

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