Karadzic Asks Bosnian Presidency Member to Testify
Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic wrote this week to Bosnian presidency member Bakir Izetbegovic asking him to testify as a defence witness in his trial.
Bakir Izetbegovic is the Bosniak member of the three-man presidency of Bosnia and Hercegovina; the other two are a Serb and a Croat, so that all three main groups are represented. He is the son of the late Alija Izetbegovic, who was president of Bosnia during the war of the early to mid-1990s.
In his letter, Karadzic says Izetbegovic might be able to “shed light” on the period when his father was president, including what he says was the Bosnian government’s acquisition of arms and military equipment “in violation of the United Nations arms embargo”.
“As you know, many of those weapons ended up in the hands of the [Bosnian government army’s] 28th Division in Srebrenica, who used them to attack Serb civilians and caused us to take action against that ‘safe area’,” Karadzic stated.
The eastern enclave of Srebrenica was declared a demilitarised “safe area” under United Nations control in 1993. Bosnian Serb forces captured the town on July 11, 1995. Karadzic is accused of responsibility for the ensuing massacre in which more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed.
Karadzic added in the letter that he wanted to ask Izetbegovic about “allegations that the Bosnian government staged some of the notorious shelling incidents in Sarajevo as a means of obtaining international intervention on its side during the war”.
He has made these allegations – that Bosnian government forces carried out mortar attacks inside the city and blamed them on the Serb units surrounding it – repeatedly during his trial.
Karadzic also used the letter to accuse Izetbegovic of writing to tribunal prosecutor Serge Brammertz to ask him to appeal against a June 2012 decision to acquit the accused of genocide in seven Bosnian municipalities in 1992. (For more, see Karadzic Acquitted of One Genocide Count.) The charge of genocide at Srebrenica still stands.
“I was surprised by your public expression of dissatisfaction with that decision. It doesn’t seem like a productive way to assist in the reconciliation of our people,” Karadzic wrote.
He concluded by asking Izetbegovic to agree to be interviewed by his legal advisor, Peter Robinson.
“Since you speak Bosnian and I speak Serbian, I am writing to you in English as a diplomatic solution,” Karadzic said at the end of the letter, which was sent to the Bosnian embassy in The Hague. The two languages are mutually intelligible.
Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia’s self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which “contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory”.
He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995.
Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.
His defence case is due to begin in October.
Rachel Irwin is IWPR Senior Reporter in The Hague.