Karadzic Asks for Gen. Wilson’s “Useless” Evidence to be Thrown-Out
www.slobodan-milosevic.org - October 5, 2010
Written by: Andy Wilcoxson
Hearing date: June 22, 2010
Former UN Military Observer chief John Wilson continued his testimony in the Radovan Karadzic trial on June 22nd.
Testifying about the fighting in Sarajevo, Gen. Wilson expressed his view that “I would think that if shelling is coming from outside the city, it would certainly be originating from Serb positions.”
Ignorant About Sarajevo
However, Gen. Wilson’s knowledge of Sarajevo was extremely limited. Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you agree, General, that the city of Sarajevo consisted of 10 municipalities?” The witness replied, “I don't know, Mr. Karadzic.”
Karadzic asked, “If I were to put it to you that one of the Sarajevo municipalities with a pronounced Serb majority, Ilijas, was shelled on a daily basis and that, proportionately speaking, the largest number of people were killed, civilians and soldiers alike, would you agree with that?”
The witness responded, “Many parts of the city were shelled on a daily basis. It could well be that Ilidza was part of them.”
Karadzic tried to ask about Muslim artillery fire that was coming from Sirokaca and Zlatiste. He asked the witness, “Do you know that Sirokaca and Zlatiste are in the hills on the slopes of Mount Trebevic?”
The witness replied, “As I indicated yesterday, I have a very limited knowledge of the geography of Sarajevo and these places. They mean absolutely nothing to me.”
Karadzic said, “Zlatiste and Sirokaca is to the south of Sarajevo, on the slopes of Trebevic, so [Muslims] are firing from the hills, shells are falling on Sarajevo, and the Serbs are being blamed for it; right?”
At that point Judge Kwon intervened saying, “Mr. Karadzic, the witness has answered that question. As he clearly indicated, he has a very limited knowledge of the geography of Sarajevo.”
Karadzic reacted to the Judge’s intervention saying: “Excellency, ethnic deployment and geography are two very important things, as far as determining where the shells are coming from and where they're falling. Why is this witness here? His entire statement shouldn't be admitted into evidence; I suggest that all of that be taken out because it's useless.”
Although the central focus of Wilson’s testimony was the shelling of Sarajevo, and his allegation that the Serbs were to blame, the witness said, “I've got to say that UNPROFOR's footprint in the city was quite small. We had very limited capacity to investigate what was going on, and this was the responsibility of the ECMM. I would again point out to you that between the 30th of April and the 13th of May, I was not in the city.”
Karadzic asked the witness, “Should I take it, then, that once the fighting started, you had no way of knowing who actually started the fight?”
The witness replied, “That's very true. We had to listen to what both sides said and inevitably each side would say, ‘We didn't start it; the other side did.’ That was the standard reply in the former Yugoslavia about almost every incident.”
When asked how one could differentiate between Muslims and Serbs the witness said, “The Muslims were generally people running around in civilian clothes with rifles. The Serbs were the people in uniforms, with helmets, supported by tanks.”
Undoubtedly, fighting in civilian clothes made it difficult for the Serbs to differentiate between Muslim solders and Muslim civilians and very likely led to extensive collateral damage among the Muslim civilian population.
In his witness statement the Gen. Wilson described the May 27, 1992 breadline massacre as “another attack on civilians, admittedly a horrendous one, and I assumed the Serbs to be responsible.”
His statement said that Gen. Mladic, “stated that the Serbs had not been responsible for the bread line attack and that the Presidency had perpetrated this incident. His body language was such that I attributed some credence to his statement.” And that “A technical investigation was conducted by French soldiers at the site of the shelling after the arrival of General MacKenzie in Sarajevo. I believe that the investigation involved crater analysis. The result of the investigations were inconclusive.”
Under cross-examination the witness admitted, “I assumed, incorrectly perhaps, that it was the Serbs. Subsequent investigation threw some doubt upon that assumption.”
Karadzic asked the witness, “Did you know that the media were at the site of the explosion beforehand?” And the witness replied, “Yes, I'm aware of that allegation, yes.”
He said, “I've included this incident in my statement simply to illustrate the fact that there was no clear good guys and bad guys in the events in the former Yugoslavia.”
witness testified that “following the bread line attack of the 27th of May,
there had been extensive coverage in the international community, and there was
some discussion in the international community that military intervention was an
option. I believe it was a hope of the Presidency at that time that there would
be an intervention and it was one of the considerations that they had to take
into account in their negotiations and in developing a strategy and a policy.”
He said, “I'm sure the Presidency would have welcomed a foreign intervention. It
would have certainly assisted their position.”
Negotiations & Proposals
Karadzic asked the witness, “As for the time when you were part of the [peace] conference, were the Muslims putting various obstacles in the path of the conference and various preconditions, and was it not obvious that it was not in their interest for the conference to continue?”
The witness replied, “If we're talking about 1993, yes, there were many occasions where each side participating in the negotiations placed preconditions on the continuation or some subsequent action being able to take place. But in all honesty, it was not just the Muslims who did this, but all of the parties involved.”
Karadzic asked the witness, “Give us one single example of a situation when the Serbs said, ‘We are not going to go to the conference unless such and such a thing is done.’” The witness replied, “At the present moment, I can't give you an example, Mr. Karadzic.”
Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you recall, General, that I had asked for the demilitarization of Sarajevo?”
Gen. Wilson replied, “I'm aware that you'd asked for that on a number of occasions. The first time you asked for that I can't put a date on.” He said, “My recollection is that you wanted the city to be passed to the control of the UN with a green line drawn somewhere in the city which would segregate Serb areas from other ethnic areas of the city.”
However, the witness criticized Karadzic saying, “Your basic position during those negotiations was that you were not prepared to take the first step in demilitarization, which would have been the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the vicinity of Sarajevo.”
Karadzic showed the witness a document (exhibit P1036) that was a report of General Morillon's discussions of the 30th of May 1992. The document said:
“Mr. Karadzic referred first in general to the situation of the Serbs in Sarajevo who are in control of areas in the suburbs and parts of the city and who are attacked practically every night by the Green Berets. He indicated the Serb forces are inexperienced and self-organized. That Mladic does not have all under his command, but that they are trying to bring them under control. He added that because of their inexperience, they overreacted to attacks. He indicated that they were willing to remove artillery from the hills if attacks on the suburbs stopped.
“Karadzic went on to say that they would like to demilitarize Sarajevo, under United Nations supervision, with only police forces to remain to maintain law and order, Serb police in Serbian-controlled parts and Muslim police in Muslim areas”
Karadzic asked the witness, “If the Serbs were to remove the heavy weapons and
the Muslims were to do nothing at all, would that give the Muslims the
advantage?” Gen. Wilson conceded the point answering, “Yes.”
Karadzic put it to the witness that “Our only reason not to remove the weapons around Sarajevo was precisely this fear of a massacre or the expulsion of Serbs from the places they lived in.” The witness replied, “I can't speculate on what motivated your position.”
Karadzic showed the witness a UN Report (exhibit P1045) which said, “The proposed demilitarization elements of the plan leave the Serbian people in the area of Sarajevo vulnerable to the B-H forces and might cause the flight of thousands of Serbs from this area.”
Sarajevo, as it exists today, has been mostly cleansed of its Serbian population so this was obviously a well-founded fear.
Karadzic asked the witness, “Do you know what the Muslim motive was to oppose the demilitarization of Sarajevo?” And the witness answered, “I can't speculate on that.” But subsequently he said, “The proposal that there be a green line created with police forces, as you call them, maintaining security there was not acceptable to the Presidency. It was not acceptable under any circumstances.”
Karadzic followed-up saying, “If I tell you their primary motive was to gain control of the whole city and the second motive was to use Sarajevo as a trump card in gaining international sympathies and international military intervention, would that sound reasonable to you?”
Again the witness replied, “I can't speculate on that, Mr. Karadzic. I don't know what motivated their actions.”
During his testimony for the Prosecution, Wilson said that on May 25, 1992, “General Mladic made a threat that if JNA personnel from Sarajevo barracks were not evacuated within three days he would engage the city with heavy artillery fire.” He went on to testify that on May 29, 1992, “The Presidency brought a tape of a radio intercept of General Mladic directing the fire of his artillery units the previous night, the night of the 28th [when the deadline expired]. The tape was in Serbo-Croat, I don't speak that language, so I don't know what the exact contents of the tape were.”
Recalling the previous massacres of withdrawing JNA solders in Sarajevo on Dobrovoljacka street and in Tuzla, Karadzic asked the witness, “If you had three massacres after assurances were made for a safe withdrawal, what would you say to the Presidency if you had two more barracks that had to be evacuated? Would you have warned them or would you have pussy-footed with them?”
The witness answered, “I can't comment on what motivates General Mladic, Mr. Karadzic. I can't really put myself in General Mladic's position.”
Karadzic showed an intercept of Gen. Mladic speaking to a solder, on May 29, 1992, who was being blockaded in the Marshal Tito barracks in Sarajevo by the Muslims.
told the soldier, “Be extremely cautious, they want to provoke us into firing on
the city by attacking the barracks.” He said, “Do not let them humiliate you, as
they did with Jusuf Dzonlic Barracks. We left all the heavy weapons for them
there, and despite of that, they attacked the column and they would massacre all
of you. Don't worry, all of you will get out. Just hang in there, there will be
He told his officer, “Pass this information on to every single soldier. Do not mess around in any circumstances. Do not risk your lives, because nobody has a life in reserve. We will not shell the town unless they violate the agreement, unless they put you in danger. But you have to be very careful. Do not trust them even one bit.”
In another intercept (exhibit P1041), Mladic is telling his men, “I don't want to kill the people. I don't want to destroy the city. I don't want the innocents to suffer. Those who want to fight, let them remain in Sarajevo. Let them allow the army to pull out. Let them pull out the civilians. And if they want to fight, we will fight. It's better to fight somewhere in the hills than in the city.” He said, “The people have to live somewhere. We do not want to fight.”
The intercepts are interesting because Mladic is speaking to his own men and his conversations are being intercepted and recorded by the Muslims without his permission.
A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: http://ictytranscripts.dyndns.org/trials/karadzic/100622ED.htm and http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/trans/en/100622ED.htm .
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