Zaimovic & Harland Testify in Karadzic Trial - June 11, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing date: May 6, 2010


Changing the Rules In the Middle of the Game


On Thursday, May 6 the judges in the Radovan Karadzic trial rescinded the admission of defense exhibits D121, D122, D124, D126, D127, D128, and D129. These exhibits were official and contemporaneous documents from UN, Bosnian-Serb, and Bosnian-Muslim sources that directly contradicted the testimony of prosecution witness Fatima Zaimovic. The whole point of the documents was that they contradicted the witness and raised serious questions about the credibility of her testimony.


The presiding judge, O-Gon Kwon, explained “the Chamber will not admit them into evidence on the basis that the witness was unable to confirm them or comment on their content.” Judge Morrison elaborated further saying, “If the document is used as an aide-memoire or a source for cross-examination, and the witness positively responds by agreeing to a question that is put, or accepting a factual matter contained in the document, then the document can be exhibited.”


Essentially, this means that no document which contradicts the testimony of a witness can be admitted into evidence. This ruling allows dishonest witnesses to give false testimony with impunity because they can block the admission of contradictory evidence just by saying they don’t know about it or that they disagree with it.


The ruling also places the public following the trial at a disadvantage by blocking their access to documents used by the parties to contradict a witness. Judge Kwon explained, “We are using the e-court system, and then we have the 65 ter number in the transcript, so all the Defence evidence can be traceable through transcript, through e-court.” But the public only has access to the admitted exhibits and to the exhibits marked for identification; it does not have any access to the rule 65 ter materials or the e-court system.


Although the ruling hamstrings both the defense and the prosecution in their efforts to rebut testimony called by the opposing party, the only one who can really lose is Radovan Karadzic. If the prosecutor is frustrated in his effort to refute the testimony of a defense witness he isn’t going to wind-up in jail. The same, however, can not be said of Radovan Karadzic.


Obviously, in this trial, the defense and the prosecution case can’t both be true. Someone has to be lying and this ruling benefits the lying party. If a witness is giving true and accurate testimony there won’t be as much evidence to rebut and contradict their testimony as there would be if the witness was giving false or misleading testimony.


Secondly, an honest witness would confirm the accuracy of a document even if it disadvantaged the party who had called them to testify, but a dishonest witness would likely refuse to confirm the accuracy of a truthful document just out of spite for the opposing party. Again, this new regime works to the advantage of the party calling the most dishonest witnesses.


This ruling highlights a key flaw in the functioning of the Tribunal. The judges can and do change the rules of the game in mid-stream. In this case they dramatically changed the criteria for the admission of evidence in the middle of the trial.


Only a kangaroo court functions like this. A real court has clear rules about the admission of evidence. In a real court everybody knows what the rules are from outset of the trial and the rules stay the same until the trial ends. In a real court the judges can’t just change the rules on a whim.


It was clear from the transcript that neither the defense nor the prosecution was expecting such a radical change in the criteria for admitting evidence. The Tribunal discredits itself by functioning this way. The verdicts it issues are devoid of moral legitimacy precisely because it does things like this.


Fatima Zaimovic’s Cross-Examination Continues: An Invisible Sniper Nest at the Hospital


When Radovan Karadzic continued his cross examination Kosevo hospital nurse Fatima Zaimovic. He asked the witness, “Are you denying that Muslim soldiers sometimes used shells and sometimes sniper fire to kill people in Sarajevo, including children?”


The witness responded by saying, “I think that that did not happen, because their dignity would not allow them to do that kind of thing.”


Karadzic then readout a document issued by the BiH Ministry of the Interior of the Sarajevo Security Services Centre and sent to the 1st Corps of the BiH Army (the document was e-court number 1D941, but could not be admitted into evidence because of the new rules).


There was a heading on the document which said “information about activities in the base of the 2nd Independent Battalion of the BiH Army.”


The document identified the headquarters of the so-called "Independent Battalion of the BiH Army" as being on Mosa Pijade Street on the ground floor at the Hospital. It said that the commander of the unit was Adnan Solakovic, and that Musan Topalovic AKA “Caco” (known to Serbs and Muslims alike as a notorious criminal) was frequently present at the headquarters.


The document said that Solakovic established a checkpoint at the entrance of Mesa Sademovic Road at the Kosevo Hospital and it gives detailed information about a bunker and two sniper nests that were located in the upper floors of one of the hospital buildings.


The document literally says, “At all these sentry points, there are mostly two men deployed in full combat gear.  At the very entrance into the hospital, we noticed guards in blue flak-jackets, and we learned from some sources that on the third floor of the stomatology ward, there are temporarily two or three sniper nests which are distributed in such a way as to cover the plateau in front of the Kosevo gas station … members of the aforementioned units are bragging that they have 15 machine-guns, a ‘death sower’ and nitroglycerine rifles.”


Mrs. Zaimovic reacted to the document saying, “This was probably done by your own people, who were probably spies in our own units.”


Karadzic retorted by saying, “This was signed by Munir Alibabic, a high official and the chief in the Security Services Centre in Sarajevo; a Muslim, as you know.”


Whose Snipers Shot At You?


Again Mrs. Zaimovic reacted angrily: “You targeted everything; houses, hospitals” she said “I don’t know who made bunkers, who did this or that.  What was done in the city, I really don’t know.  My job for four years was to go from my house to my hospital.  I rarely went into town.  I was afraid of shelling and sniper fire and everything else.  And that was my range, that’s what I did.  I went to work and back home, and very often I did that under sniper fire and bullets.”


This comment of hers leads to an interesting observation. If she didn't know what was going on in the city, and she didn't know where the military targets were located, how can she comment on the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the shelling? Her comment also led to an interesting back-and-forth between her and Karadzic:


KARADZIC: Did you just say that you passed under sniper fire and through bullets?




KARADZIC: Ms. Zaimovic, do you know what the sniper range is?


ZAIMOVIC: I don’t know any ranges.  I don’t know what the shell range is. I don’t know what a sniper range is.


KARADZIC: Do you know what the range of a rifle is?




KARADZIC: Will you accept if I told you that the range of an automatic rifle is less than a kilometer; of a sniper [rifle], a kilometer and a half at the most; and that the Serbian positions were never any closer than two to three kilometers from the area that you just described?


ZAIMOVIC: What do you want me to say?


KARADZIC: Whose bullets were those, if you had to pass through a torrent of bullets in the area where the Serb rifles couldn’t reach?  And you see that there were snipers and there are bunkers in the middle of the town, and they were not turned towards the Serbs, but towards the citizens of Sarajevo! The bunkers were made in order to secure the gang from either the citizens or the police, and the police reported to the authorities that in the center of the town there was a bunker which was not within their control, there were sniper nests, there were APCs, and, madam, that was in the street.  It was in Bolnicka Street or, rather, Mosa Pijade Street (at the very entrance to the hospital).  How is it possible that you didn’t see that?


ZAIMOVIC:   Of course I didn’t, and it is crazy -- it would have been crazy for people living in town to open fire on their own people.


KARADZIC: Madam, you say that the entrance into the hospital, you were shot at from a sniper; is that correct?




KARADZIC: Who was it who could open fire at you, since the Serbs were more than two and a half kilometers away from that place?  Who could it have been that opened fire on you?


ZAIMOVIC: You armed all your Serbs in Sarajevo, and you gave all of them weapons.  You know that.  I suppose that somebody opened fire from their own window, and you know that also.  I don’t know where, from, and how.

KARADZIC: Are you saying that there were Serb units in Sarajevo, within Sarajevo, which was under the control of the Muslim Army, the Muslim police?


Tank firing at Civilian Apartments 50 Meters Away from Zaimovic’s House


In addition to testifying that she had been targeted by snipers at the hospital, the witness said she saw a "Serbian tank" 50 meters away from her house firing at civilian apartments, but the Serb lines were more than 3 kilometers away from her apartment.


Karadzic showed her the frontlines on a map and told her, “If you had seen a tank at a 50-metre distance [from your house], then have you to accept that it was a Muslim tank.”   And the witness insisted, “No, it was not.”


Serb and Croat Doctors Attacked at Kosevo Hospital


According to Ms. Zaimovic, Serbian and Croatian doctors were treated better than Muslim doctors at the Kosevo Hospital. She said, “We took such good care of them.  I think I can really say that we were so gentle to them that our own doctors were jealous because we took such care of them.”


Karadzic however, came to court armed with depositions from Croatian and Serbian doctors who fled from Sarajevo and the Kosevo Hospital in fear for their lives.


The first deposition was in the form of a video tape. Dr. Mirko Sosic, a Serbian doctor who had a practice at the Kosevo Hosptial said: “It was in December 1991. While I was entering the hospital, some beardless man in berets, armed with Klashnikovs pointed the gun into me, and they asked me, Who are you?  I said that I was a doctor and that I worked there.  What are you carrying?  I said that I was carrying my purse, my things.  They started to search me.  That was December, much before the war.  It was a few months before the war.  Then I came in and asked my colleagues, the doctors, what had happened over the night.  I asked who it was who was terrorizing the doctors.  And they told me that some measures of caution had to be put in place because the well-known leader of one paramilitary unit had been wounded and put on trauma, and his forces were controlling the whole hospital, who entered, who exited.  But that was much before the war, you know.  And we, the doctors, we were infuriated.  We decided to call the police.  We called the police, the commander of the police, Bjelave, and the police told us, there’s not anything we can do, and they hung up.  The war actually started much before we could hear the first shots.


“[My decision] to leave the town happened on August the 14th when I came to work, two nurses told me that one of our colleagues was [found] dead and massacred that night.  That man was Professor Dr. Milutin Najdanovic.


“His body was deformed.  He had about 14 knife stabs.  He was fired in the mouth, and he was found on the pavement in front of the Zetra during the night.  And because of all that, his body was not recognizable.  They called one of the paramedics who were on duty that night, and that person identified him.  That was the crucial moment when I realized that nothing was left for me there, that maybe I would be the next victim.


“This is just an example, illustrating that these men, these 400 doctors, were not fleeing because they thought that they were faring well, but because their lives were threatened.  We as civilians couldn’t do anything.”


After seeing the videotape Zaimovic said, “What Professor Sosic is saying here, I really don’t know anything about that. He was a very nice gentleman. His wife worked at my ward.  She had retired before the war started.  And I have to tell you, honestly, that I was very surprised when he had left our country.”


Another statement came from Dr. Vladimir Simunovic, an ethnic Croat who worked as a neurosurgeon at the Kosevo Hospital. His statement was contemporaneous and it said: “Doctors in hospital are being closely observed, and often they are being threatened with weapons, saying that they have to save some patients who had been brought in half dead.  It is particularly difficult for doctors who are ethnic Serbs, and Croats as of late as well.  We have also been informed that within the compound of the Kosevo Hospital, in the old laundry room and the restaurant above the ear department, there is the military police, consisting of about 200 men.  They are commanded by Almir Husic, and he’s using the pseudonym ‘Kinez.’  Near the Civil Engineering Faculty, there are some artillery weapons that are often firing, and in the tunnel of Ciglane, two armored vehicles can be seen.


“Out of the doctors who are ethnic Muslim who are too extreme, the following should be mentioned:  Dr. Faruk Kulenovic, Dr. Mufid Lazovic, Dr. Faris Gavrankapetanovic, Dr. Goran Dzinic, who are underrating Serbs in any way, and they are prepared to exchange for the ideas of Alija Izetbegovic their doctors’ clothes for military uniforms.”


Again, Zaimovic reacted with anger saying, “I say that these are lies, and I’m sure that a doctor who wanted to leave town under the pressure exerted by your machinery said all of this so that you would let him leave Bosnia.  This is such a lie.  I wish I could see him myself and tell him that to the face.  This is a pure lie.” And because Zaimovic disagreed with the document it could not be admitted because of the new rules.


Karadzic asked her, “Do you know that all those people left their apartments and all of their property in Sarajevo, and you’re still saying that it was because of me?  Croats, Jews, everybody left their jobs, salaries, and apartments?”


Zaimovic said, “What are material things?  Material things are nothing.  During the war, the only thing that mattered was life.  You destroyed everything.  You expelled thousands upon thousands of people.  You confiscated everything they had.  Your warriors took gold from our women. You killed anybody, anywhere.”


Karadzic dismissed the witness saying, “Madam, you are saying that 15 professors lied, 400 doctors left everything they had in Sarajevo because they loved me and my political ideas, and you’re the only person telling the truth.”


The prosecutor did not have any re-examination and the witness left.


David Harland takes the Stand for the Prosecution


Mr. Harland worked for the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in various capacities, from 1993 through to 1999.  From May 1993 to January 1995, he was a civil affairs officer with UNPROFOR BH Command.  From January to August 1995, he served as the head of Civil Affairs for Sector Sarajevo.  In August 1995, he was deployed back to BH Command, where he worked as the political adviser to the UNPROFOR BH commander, General Rupert Smith.


After the conflict ended, Mr. Harland remained for three years, serving as head of Civil Affairs for the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, otherwise known as UNMIBH.  He later returned to research and write a report on the fall of Srebrenica, on behalf of the Secretary-General.


From 1993 to 1995, Mr. Harland frequently participated in meetings with leaders of the warring factions, including the Bosnian Serb leadership, and, in particular, Radovan Karadzic. During this period, Mr. Harland was also the principal political drafter for UNPROFOR and, as such, was responsible for authoring contemporaneous reports, including “Weekly Political Assessments,” “Sector Sarajevo Weekly Sitreps,” agreements, and other correspondence.


Harland described the military situation in Sarajevo saying, “in Sarajevo, the high ground was dominated by the Serbs, with their weaponry, and the low ground was a relatively compact community of mainly Bosniaks.”


Mr. Harland observed and was aware of shelling of the city of Sarajevo by Bosnian-Serb forces. He testified that some shelling was used to repel Bosnian government offensives, and that some of the shelling had no identifiable military tactical purpose, but seemed intended to keep the civilian population of Sarajevo locked down and fearful. He said there were three distinct forms of bombardment of Sarajevo by Bosnian-Serb forces, 1) “tactical use of heavy weapons,” 2), “tit-for-tat,” when Bosnian forces would fire onto Serb-held territory and there would be a response by the Serbs, and 3) what he called “background terror,” shelling with no identifiable military purpose.


Mr. Harland also observed and was made aware of sniping of civilians. He concluded that through this type of shelling and sniping that Dr. Karadzic and the Bosnian Serb leadership were able to put pressure on Sarajevo, and would modulate this pressure for political ends.


When the issue of excessive shelling and sniping was brought to Karadzic’s attention Harland said, “Dr. Karadzic, normally would deny that there was a problem, or say that he would look into the problem, or say that he had already issued orders that firing should stop.”


Mr. Harland was in Sarajevo when the first Markale Market incident occurred in February 1994.  He states that circumstantial evidence showed that the Serbs were responsible.


Mr. Harland was also in Sarajevo when the second Markale Market incident occurred in August 1995.  He testifies that UNPROFOR’s experts immediately concluded that the mortar bomb came from Bosnian Serb positions in the area of Lukavica, and that comments by General Smith at the time, that there was some doubt as to the origin of fire, were made only to ensure that the Serbs were not alerted to the fact that he had requested NATO to begin air-strikes against Serb positions, and thus to allow for the safe extraction of peacekeepers from Bosnian-Serb-held territory, without which the air campaign could not have gone ahead.


Harland elaborated on this plan in court saying: “General Smith had a plan to end the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or at least a series of initiatives that would contribute to the end of the war, and central to those initiatives was the need to direct NATO air-strikes against the Bosnian Serbs on a massive scale.  In order for him to be able to initiate those air-strikes, he had to resolve two problems.  One problem, we called them the Mogadishu problem (see below), which is probably less relevant to this Court, and to his statement about these mortars.  The second problem is the hostage problem, which is that he could not trigger the large-scale -- the massive-scale use of NATO air power against the Bosnian Serbs unless he was sure that all UN personnel, particularly UN personnel of NATO nationalities, were off Bosnian Serb territory, because if they were on Bosnian Serb territory, they would be very vulnerable to being taken hostage.  And they had -- the Serbs had shown, in May, I think it was, that if they were able to take hostages, they could use them as human shields, and that would stop NATO from escalating its air-strikes.  So General Smith had been working for several weeks, very quietly and discreetly, to take as many “UNPROFOR personnel as possible, particularly all those from NATO nations, off Bosnian-Serb-held territory.


“Now, nobody could predict, when this Markale atrocity happened, that this would be the incident that would trigger these air attacks, and very unfortunately for UNPROFOR, exactly on that day there was a small unit of very vulnerable British troops, that is, UNPROFOR troops of NATO nationality, stuck on Bosnian-Serb-controlled territory.  I think it was a unit that was leaving the Bosnian government pocket of Gorazde -- enclave of Gorazde and going home, or rotating for leave, perhaps, and they were, I think, in a little village called Dobrun.  So General Smith desperately needed a few hours of time.  He needed to buy a few hours so that he could quickly get these British troops out of the way of the Serbs, so they couldn’t be taken as human shields, so he needed a few hours in which the Serbs didn’t realise what was happening while he prepared to launch the air-strikes.


“So we had a discussion about what to do, and it was decided that the best way to ensure that the Serbs did not quickly try to grab these people as hostages would be for us to make a very bland statement, a statement implying that we didn’t know who had fired the shell, and certainly wouldn’t imply that we were doing what was being done, which -- by UNPROFOR, which is preparing very large-scale air-strikes in an effort to end the war.


“So it was decided that such a statement would be made, and it was made.  And I believe it may have contributed to an enduring myth as to who fired that mortar bomb.”


When asked what the ‘Mogadishu problem’ was Harland explained that “The very specific issue was that General Smith was concerned, as General Rose, his predecessor, had been, that if he, as the UNPROFOR commander, ordered massive air-strikes against the Serbs, that the Serbs would, because they controlled the artillery in the mountains around Sarajevo, be able to retaliate very directly against the UNPROFOR and UNHCR bases and facilities on the floor of the valley, that we would be vulnerable, just as the Bosnian government and the Sarajevo population had been vulnerable.  And that if there was a massive retaliation by the Serbs, that the countries which owned the aircraft, the United States and other countries, might lose their nerve, in the face of casualties, and might withdraw, as had happened in Mogadishu.”


The hearing ended with the conclusion of Harland’s testimony for the prosecution. A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:

The summary of Radovan Karadzic’s cross-examination of David Harland will commence in the summary of the May 7th hearing.

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