Karadzic Asks Tribunal to Throw-Out Donia’s Report
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - September 3, 2010
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
Hearing date: June 10, 2010
In the seventh and final day of his testimony, Radovan Karadzic went on the offensive against the Prosecution’s expert historian Robert Donia. Karadzic told the court, “I would like to have his papers rejected because they are partial, unprofessional, political, and we believe he has no expertise.”
Donia’s bias was on full display as the hearing wore on. At one point Karadzic asked him if he agreed “that the adversary of the Patriotic League was the JNA and the Serbs?”
Donia disagreed. He said, “No. I don’t think that the Patriotic League when it was founded specified an adversary. Its purpose was stated as the defense of the Muslim people in Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
Karadzic asked who the Patriotic League was supposed to “defend” the Muslims from and Donia answered, “I do not know.”
The Patriotic League (an armed Bosnian-Muslim paramilitary force) was officially founded on March 31, 1991 – long before any Bosnian Serb military force existed. In the absence of an opposing military force, Donia’s contention that it was a defensive organization is dubious at best.
Donia could not identify a single Serbian paramilitary group that existed in Bosnia before the war. To bear out the fact that he didn’t have any, Karadzic read from an intercept of a conversation (exhibit D304) that he had with Predrag Radic (mayor of Banja Luka) on November 11, 1991.
In that conversation Karadzic said: “Our party doesn’t have an army, and if any of our members want to defend the country, we are asking them to join the army”
Donia told Karadzic his interpretation of the conversation saying, “You were trying to bring the JNA onto your side to effectively become the army of the Serb people.”
Karadzic asked him, “Do you believe that my support to the regular federal army was unlawful?” And Donia answered, “I don’t know.”
Making Moral Judgments
Karadzic also read from an intercept of a conversation between himself and Serbian intelligence head Jovica Stanisic from before the war (exhibit D301).
In that conversation Karadzic said: “We do not want any division of Bosnia because it is both unpopular and unnecessary ultimately, because probably there will be no borders anywhere in Yugoslavia.” He said, “If the Muslims want, we can finish everything peacefully so that everybody is satisfied, and if they don’t, there will be chaos. Everything depends on them.”
Karadzic also told Stanisic of his talks with the Tudjman regime in Croatia. He said, “The Serbs and the Croats could resolve all their contentious issues in a month or two.”
After seeing the intercept Donia attacked Karadzic saying, “I don’t think it was appropriate for you to negotiate behind the backs of the Muslims with the Croats about the division of a country in which they were a very significant political force. So I don’t think the way in which you negotiated or Mr. Koljevic in this case negotiated was not appropriate. And, as a matter of fact, when you did this in May and negotiated an agreement in Grac without the participation of the Muslims, you were specifically reprimanded by the EC representatives for trying to cut a two-way deal when the rules of the conference and the negotiations were that any agreement had to have the endorsement of the three national communities.”
Karadzic replied, “Well, if that’s the case, how could there have been the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina if all three parties had to give their agreement?”
Donia stammered, “This is -- you’ve asked me about and I’ve responded to a situation in which you and the head of a neighboring republic which had actually become a sovereign state were directly negotiating. I think that was not appropriate and isn’t really a parallel situation to the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina.”
Karadzic: “If the situation was that two sides cannot out-vote the third side -- well, the HDZ and the SDA made the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a federation of the Croats and Muslims later on without the Serbs, that’s analogous; right?”
Donia’s answer: “No.” No explanation why it wasn’t just his assertion -- “no”.
It’s also a mystery where Donia got this division of the country nonsense when Karadzic clearly says in the intercept “We do not want any division of Bosnia”.
Although Donia implies that Karadzic’s support for the JNA may have been illegal and he scolds him for, in his opinion, “inappropriately” negotiating with the Croats. Donia insists that he stays away from making moral judgments in his testimony.
Karadzic asked him, “Did you identify any action of the Muslim part of the authorities which led to war?” Donia replied, “I have not made those kinds of moral judgments.”
Karadzic gave him another opportunity. He asked, “In the entire activity of the SDA, did you identify actions that led to the outbreak of war? Can you mention some if you did identify any?”
Donia’s response: “My primary focus, of course, was on the SDS and the formation of Republika Srpska.”
Karadzic asked him, “And do you consider that the Trial Chamber wouldn’t benefit from knowing what the other two sides did?”
Donia replied, “I’m not too sure how much use it would be to the Trial Chamber” He said, “I think that my job mainly is to illuminate the conduct of the Bosnian Serb Leadership and the developments that led to the formation of the Republika Srpska.”
Karadzic asked, “Do you mean to say that you understood and that the Trial Chamber will understand the acts of the Serb side without an overall comprehensive integral picture?”
Donia explained that his reports are “in no way comprehensive” and that they are “not intended to enter into the judgments that the Trial Chamber will make regarding the case.” He said, “My purpose in writing the reports was not to judge what was legal, constitutional, or justified.”
In light of that explanation, one has to wonder why Donia was ever put on the witness stand to begin with, and why his reports were admitted as exhibits in the trial if the judges aren’t supposed to rely on them to reach their verdict.
Karadzic asked, “Are you anti-Serb, Mr. Donia?” Of course Donia denied the allegation.
Karadzic then exhibited a letter accusing Serbia of “genocide” against the Bosnian-Muslims (exhibit D305) that Donia signed together with Noel Malcolm, Marko Attila Hoare, Branka Magas, Tom Gallagher, Smajo Cekic, Jasmin Jahic, and every other Serb-hater you can think of.
Karadzic told the court “You’re not going to find a single document with that many anti-Serbs in one place.”
Donia admitted signing the letter. He said, “I do, indeed, recall signing this several years ago. There was a time when I actually was not certain that I had signed it, but I do now have an active recollection of signing it.” He said he was “willing to go along with this group of people, most of whom I know well and share at least some views with.”
The Islamic Declaration
Karadzic questioned Donia about the Islamic Declaration written by Alija Izetbegovic, and Donia did his best to downplay the significance of the document. He said, “I would agree that he makes statements in there in which he argues that Muslims should take over a state if they reach a certain threshold of the population. There -- as you read through it, I think you barely notice them at first, but, of course, they have been highlighted, dragged out many, many times, put on the internet and highlighted by Izetbegovic’s critics from people like you to Zulfikarpasic, and a whole bunch of other people to argue that he was an Islamic fundamentalist.”
Donia is really a piece of work. He admits that Izetbegovic “argues that Muslims should take over a state if they reach a certain threshold of the population” and then he acts like Karadzic, and Zulfikarpasic (who is a Muslim himself), were unreasonable in their characterization of Izetbegovic as an Islamic fundamentalist.
The Cutileiro Plan
On March 18, 1992 Radovan Karadzic (on behalf of the SDS), Mate Boban (on behalf of the HDZ), and Alija Izetbegovic (on behalf of the SDA) agreed to the Cutileiro Plan. The document can be viewed at:
Karadzic asked the witness, “I think you said that I said it was a great day for Bosnia and that Bosnia had been saved. Is that what you said, or words to that effect, quoting me somewhere?”
Donia petulantly replied, “I think your narcissism is showing. I don’t believe I ever said that.”
Regardless of what Donia may have said about the subject. The Associated Press reported the following:
Rival ethnic leaders of Bosnia-Hercegovina agreed Wednesday that the republic should be independent, but should be split among the three main groups - Muslims, Serbs and Croats. Radovan Karadzic, leader of Bosnia’s Serbs, called it “a great day,” saying the accord “removes the possibility of an outbreak of civil war” in Bosnia. “We have adopted the basic principles. There is no road back,” he said. [The Associated Press, “Bosnian Leaders Agree on Makeup of Ethnic State”, March 18, 1992]
Karadzic showed the witness a statement (exhibit D302) that SDA spokesman (and party vice-President) Irfan Ajanovic gave to reporters on March 19, 1992.
Ajanovic was quoted as saying, “If the Serbian Assembly would reject tonight’s agreement with Jose Cutileiro that would be the latest ridiculous act coming out of the Serbian kitchen. In that case it will become clear as to who is not for peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and who is cheating the European Community and the Chairman of the Conference on Bosnia.”
Karadzic asked, “Did you know of this statement made by Ajanovic and their general attitude and standpoint on the 19th of March?”
Donia replied, “This in no way represents a general viewpoint of the SDA.”
Donia’s response took Judge Kwon by surprise. He asked, “Wasn’t Ajanovic a spokesman of the SDA at the time?” Donia confirmed, “Yes, he was.”
Donia changed his strategy. Instead of trying to say that Ajanovic didn’t speak for the SDA. He decided to attack the newspaper that published Ajanovic’s statement. He said, “Given that this is ‘Politika’ and they actually didn’t carry the full text of his statement, they just carried a couple of excerpts from it, I would say I’m not sure that that’s the case, no.”
Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you have proof that ‘Oslobodjenje’ carried something different and that he had not said this?”
Donia, an “expert historian” according to the prosecutor, replied, “I’m not the one with the documents, Dr. Karadzic. I don’t know.”
The witness tried to downplay the significance of the Cutileiro Plan saying, “I don’t believe that your representation of this agreement during the war was accurate, and I don’t think your characterization of it now is accurate.” He said the agreement “wasn’t signed by anybody.”
Donia’s insinuation that the Cutileiro Plan wasn’t really an agreement because “it wasn’t signed by anybody” is absurd. The text of the document literally says, “As agreed by the leaders of the SDA, SDS, and HDZ parties in the fifth round of talks on the future constitutional arrangements for Bosnia and Herzegovina under the auspices of the EC Peace Conference.”
In a letter to the Economist magazine Cutileiro wrote: “After several rounds of talks our 'principles for future constitutional arrangements for Bosnia and Hercegovina' were agreed by all three parties (Muslim, Serb and Croat) in Sarajevo on March 18th 1992 as the basis for future negotiations. These continued, maps and all, until the summer, when the Muslims renegged on the agreement. Had they not done so, the Bosnian question might have been settled earlier, with less loss of (mainly Muslim) life and land. To be fair, President Izetbegovic and his aides were encouraged to scupper that deal and to fight for a unitary Bosnian state by well-meaning outsiders who thought they knew better.” Cutileiro’s letter can be seen at: http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org/documents/cutileiro_economist.pdf
Karadzic showed the witness another statement (exhibit D303) by Ajanovic from when the Muslims reneged on the agreement. In response to a journalist’s question as to why the SDA accepted the agreement in the first place, Ajanovic responded that it was “a political game to ensure international recognition of a sovereign Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
Again the witness attacked the source of the quote rather than the substance. He said, “I simply point out it’s ‘Politika.’ As we sit here, a Serbian service called E-novine is re-running ‘Politika’s’ coverage of events on the eve of and early in the war with the sole purpose of showing how absurdly one-sided ‘Politika’s’ coverage was.”
E-Novine is a “Serbian” service that is funded by the American government. It says right on the donations page of their website that their funding comes from the National Endowment for Democracy.
Karadzic repeated his question. He said, “My question is whether Ajanovic stated on the 19th [of March 1992] they were happy, that they fared well, and that the Serbs would be blamed, and a week later he’s the one who actually deceived them. Are you aware of that statement, yes or no?”
Donia answered, “No, I don’t have the basis for concluding that he said that.”
Karadzic replied, “Mr. Donia, you are totally ruining your own credibility.”
Indeed contemporaneous press reports from the Associated Press and the BBC Monitoring Service corroborate Karadzic’s account and refute Donia. Those accounts can be seen at:
A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/trans/en/100610IT.htm and http://ictytranscripts.dyndns.org/trials/karadzic/100610IT.htm
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