Mandic Says That General Mladic Was Not Under the Control of the Civilian Authorities - April 6, 2012


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Summary of the July 16, 2010 hearing in the Karadzic Trial


Momcilo Mandic finished his testimony in the Radovan Karadzic trial in The Hague on July 16th. He had been on the witness stand testifying for nine days. Mandic was the assistant minister of interior for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1991 until April 1992. After the outbreak of the conflict, Mr. Mandic served as a deputy to Mr. Mico Stanisic for the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, before becoming the minister of justice for Republika Srpska on 12 May 1992. From December 1992 to 1994, Mr. Mandic served as the director of the Bureau of Republika Srpska in Belgrade.


Karadzic Opposed War and Favored A Negotiated Solution


Karadzic showed Mandic an excerpt from a speech that he gave before the Bosnian Assembly in January 1992 in which he said, "Believe me, we have no influence over war or peace. Situations are very often out of control, and very often the situation is out of control. Gentlemen, all of you, including me, can picture now what would happen if, God forbid, a riot started now or an inter-ethnic and religious war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we can draw that on the board. Serbs would flee from Muslim areas, Muslims from Serb areas, and Croats would go to their areas, and there would be shooting along the way. There would be destruction of towns, there would be bloodshed, and we would find ourselves exactly where we are now; Serbs in the Serbian areas, Muslims in the Muslim areas, Croats in Croatian areas, fully homogeneous. And what would we have to do? We would again have to sit down and put three signatures on our agreement, because without all three signatures, there is no solution for Bosnia-Herzegovina."


Karadzic commented that "what it says here is something one didn't have to be a prophet to foresee" and he asked the witness "Do you agree, Minister, that unfortunately all these fears and apprehensions of mine, which I put forward before the Joint Assembly on the 25th of January, 1992, came true?" And Mandic agreed, "Yes"


Karadzic also showed the witness footage from a speech (exhibit D494) that he gave in May 1992 just after the outbreak of the war. In his speech Karadzic says, "To our great regret, and contrary to our will, the war has been imposed on us by part of the leadership of the two ethnic communities in Bosnia-Herzegovina ... We in Bosnia-Herzegovina are not in conflict with Croats and Muslims. We are in conflict with militant leaderships which would like to impose their own state on us, a state in which they would dominate, and we would be second-class citizens, and that would be accompanying people to the leading people or nation, which was clearly communicated to us during some rallies. However, Serbian people do not ask to be leaders, but will not agree to be second-rate citizens. This is the reason why we decided to organize our own state unit in Bosnia and Herzegovina."


Crime Prevention Measures Eventually Paid Off


Karadzic showed the witness the criminal report (exhibit D480) against the Yellow Wasps paramilitary group (which the indictment alleges he was in a joint criminal enterprise with), and Mandic commented that "I saw this document in 1992, and I know about this event, when paramilitary units who had committed crimes in the Podrinje area between Zvornik and Bratunac and Bijeljina. And at your initiative and the initiative of the prime minister, in co-ordinated action, the police and the army arrested about a dozen of these men and handed them over to the competent organs. I know that this Vuckovic was tried and sentenced for a war crime. He was the leader of the Yellow Wasps, and this was one of the first actions of the legal organs of the government, the state, against paramilitary units who did not want to subordinate themselves to the military command."


Karadzic asked the witness, "Do you agree that when the government was set up in Republika Srpska and centralization carried out, and the government became more effective, the crime rate dropped, and that 1992 was the worst year in that respect, and that afterwards the crime rate dropped dramatically?" Mandic replied, "I fully agree with that."


Karazic asked the witness, "Do you happen to know that the Muslims returned to Kozluk alive and well, almost all of them, and that nothing bad happened to them? They went to Subotica and then on to European countries, but as soon as the war was over, they came back, and now they live in Republika Srpska?"


Mandic answered, "The place where there is the greatest number of returnees, the two places, are Janja and Kozluk on the territory of the Republika Srpska, and I know that they have built two or three houses of worship and that many Muslims now live and work in Kozluk."


General Mladic Not Under Karadzic's Control


In response to questioning by the Judges, Mandic told the court that "General Ratko Mladic did not respect the orders issued by the president of Republika Srpska or any member of the Presidency for a long period of time in the course of the war. I know that there was talk of replacing the general, dismissing him, but it was not possible at that point in time because there would have been a mutiny by the Command of the Republika Srpska."


He said, "In 1993, when Mr. Ninkovic was the minister of defense, and he hailed from Doboj, the general ordered that about a dozen ministers and members of the government administration be arrested. For ten days, they had to feed pigs in Han Pijesak, which was held by the army. President Karadzic and all the other leaders made efforts to have these people released, but the general paid no attention to them. And it was only when he decided that they should be released that they were released. So the minister of defense and some other ministers had to do labor on a military farm, on the personal orders of General Mladic, and this was contrary to all customs and the standpoint of the president, and the Presidency, and other members of the government. I find this event very telling. It illustrates the self-will of General Ratko Mladic, who did not respect the civilian authorities."


Judge Kwon asked the witness, "How come General Mladic was able to retain his position, despite all this disobedience?"


Mandic answered, "The officers commanding the Army of Republika Srpska came from the former JNA, and they were suspicious of the civilian authorities, who did not come from the socialist system. From the very beginning, there was mistrust and lack of co-operation, and no one was able to replace or dismiss General Ratko Mladic in the Republika Srpska because there would have been a military coup and he would have abolished all the civilian institutions." And with that Mandic's testimony came to an end.


Prosecution Witness Milan Mandilovic Takes the Stand


Milan Mandilovic is a doctor who worked at the JNA military hospital in Sarajevo before the war, and worked there again after the hospital was taken over by Muslim forces and renamed Sarajevo General Hospital in May 1982.


Mandilovic told the court that "The hospital had the misfortune of being on the very front-line." He said, "This is one of the few hospitals of that size, importance, and capacity that was ever on a front-line throughout the history of warfare."


He described the damage that the hospital sustained during the war saying, "The intensity of the shelling varied in different time-periods; that it was physically hit the most from the southern side, the hospital, I mean. However, it was also hit from the northern side and also from the eastern side. In a word, that means that the hospital was hit from all sides over those 44 months of war, but the shelling that was the most intensive was on the southern side."


He also described the conditions in the hospital. He said, "Throughout the war, conditions were very difficult. We had a constant shortage of medicine, medical material, and energy, power as well, water, and there was no gas either. So all these elements that are very important for the normal functioning of a hospital were at reduced level. We had to be very careful about using the resources we had. We had to save our resources, and the number of wounded and ill persons was on the rise all the time. Therefore, the situation was very difficult. However, I have to say that thanks to our management, the hospital that was on the front-line worked 'round the clock, 24 hours a day, over 44 months. Not at a single point in time did the hospital grind to a halt. It was always in a position to help wounded and ill persons."


He said, "Life in the hospital, working in the hospital, it ran along parallel lines with life in town, itself, and that was manifested in the following. Ordinary citizens of Sarajevo were the victims of terror every day, terror inflicted by heavy weaponry from the hills surrounding Sarajevo. Also, they did not have vital things; water, electricity, gas, and food, of course. All of that seriously threatened the life of the population. Also, it impaired their health. In view of how long it went on, we have many people in Sarajevo who were there throughout the war and who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, not only members of the Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina, but all citizens of Sarajevo, who can say that they were together with the soldiers at the front-line. That would be a proper statement."

According to the prosecutor's summary of Mandilovic's evidence, Dr. Mandilovic was on duty in the State Hospital on the 28th of August, 1995, and treated casualties from scheduled shelling incident G19, known as the Markale II incident when some 40 people were brought into the State hospital and Dr. Mandilovic authenticates selected hospital records relating to scheduled sniping incidents F4, F11, F14, and F15, and scheduled shelling incidents G4, G6, G7, G8, G9, G10, G13, and G19.


Karadzic Cross Examines Mandilovic and Mandilovic Gives Evasive Answers


Mandilovic testified that he deserted his post at the JNA military hospital on the 2nd of May1992 "because the former JNA was no longer the army of Yugoslavia, it was not the army of the Yugoslav nation's nationalities. Practically 1991, when Slovenia seceded, after that Croatia and then Bosnia-Herzegovina, it stopped being the JNA. It completely changed its ideology, it completely changed its doctrine, it completely changed its command staff, and it completely changed its insignia."


He explained that he "returned to the hospital on the day when it changed its name and its purpose, which was after the 10th of May, 1992."


Karazic asked the witness how the hospital ceased being property of the JNA, and the witness explained, "Up to the 10th of May, 1992, it was part of the JNA" He said, "It stopped being the property of the former JNA on the 10th of May, 1992, when those people who did not want to remain left, and the hospital then changed its name and its purpose."


Karadzic persisted and asked, "Did it also change its owner? Does ownership of property change in this way?"


The witness answered, "That's a legal issue. But there's one thing you should know. As of March, Bosnia-Herzegovina was an independent state. Its flag was flown before the UN on the East River. It was recognized. So from that point on, the JNA was on foreign territory." He said, "I can tell you that the take-over of the Military Hospital was negotiated by the minister of the interior directly."


Because the witness claimed that the take over of the hospital was negotiated and that the JNA left the hospital voluntarily, Karadzic asked the witness, "Who fired shots on the Military Hospital before the 10th of May?" The witness replied, "On the 2nd of May, I left the hospital, so I couldn't say."


So Karadzic asked him, "Who fired shots at the hospital in April?" And the witness answered, "If there was any shooting, I didn't notice it."


Karadzic showed the witness a JNA military report (exhibit D495) dated April 21, 1992. The report said, "At 0655 hours, the Sarajevo Military Hospital was hit by a mortar shell. The dining-room on the fourth floor of the Neuropsychiatry Ward was hit. At 735 hours in the morning, the Military Hospital was hit again by two stray bullets, which broke the windows in one of the hospital rooms. One patient was cut by broken glass. In addition to that, the paramilitary formations have been laying siege to the Sarajevo Military Hospital all day long."


Karadzic asked the witness, "How come you don't know about this shelling and this shell that fell into the Neuropsychiatry Ward?"


The witness answered, "I worked on the 12th floor of the main building, so I really don't know about this. I'm not aware of this." He went on to say, "I absolutely disagree with this statement that the hospital was surrounded by some patriotic forces and that they were awaiting the attack on the hospital."


Karadzic asked the witness, "Do you know Dr. Tomislav Tausan?" And the witness answered, "Yes. He was the director of the Military Hospital in Sarajevo up until the 10th of May, 1992. Dr. Tausan was very co-operative in that point of time. Whoever wanted to leave the hospital had his absolute approval."


Karadzic then produced a statement from Dr. Tausan which said, "From [April 5, 1992] Muslims fired at facilities in the Military Hospital from time to time, so the command sent a group of soldiers to help provide security for the hospital. And I remember that there was a total of 26 soldiers who were providing security. One of the stronger sniper attacks came from the Unis building. So within the compound of the hospital, no one dared move about." The statement said, "The first more serious attack against the Military Hospital was on the 6th of April, 1992. That is when over 1.000 Muslims moved towards the hospital from the police building. However, when they saw that the security detail of the hospital would offer resistance, they gave up. There was a sniper from a Magribija mosque that was operating all the time. One of the fiercest attacks on the Military Hospital was on the 26th of April, but thankfully without any losses."


The witness reacted saying, "I don't know how come Dr. Tausan has this information that these were Juka Prazina's units. It could have been any unit. It could have been absolutely any other unit in that chaos that prevailed in town." He said, "You have to understand that in Sarajevo, throughout April, and especially by night, there were bursts of gun-fire, automatic and single shots, all the time, but you could never tell where it was directed. So it could have happened, but I don't know."


Karadzic put it to the witness, "you said on page 63 of today's transcript, and later also, that there was no electricity, water, gas, and many other things, but when there was electricity, water, and gas, and other supplies, where did these supplies come from? Do you agree that all this population received all their water from wells in the Serb territory? And before this tunnel was opened, most of the power supply came from Vogosca and through other Serb territories?"


The witness said, "Naturally. Water comes from elevations downwards" adding "I agree with only one thing, Mr. Karadzic. Everything that came from the territory controlled by Bosnian Serbs was insufficient and hard to come by."


Karadzic asked, "But it was hard to come by because of whom?" and the witness answered, "I don't know."


Undoubtedly, Karadzic was thinking about the earlier testimony from David Harland and Herbert Okun about how the Izetbegovic regime cut off water and electricity to Sarajevo.


Karadzic asked the witness, "Do you know where Debelo Brdo is, Debelo Hill?" The witness answered, "I think its south of the hospital" and you will recall that the witness testified for the prosecutor that "the hospital was hit from all sides over those 44 months of war, but the shelling that was the most intensive was on the southern side."


Karadzic asked the witness, "Who controlled Debelo Brdo? Whose forces were there?" The answer is the Muslims, but the witness answered, "I really don't know." So Karadzic asked, "If somebody's shooting from that hill, Debelo Brdo, at the hospital, what would you conclude?" And the witness answered "I can't say, because I don't know where Debelo Brdo is" and that was his answer two minutes after he said it was to the south of the hospital.



A complete transcript of this hearing is available at:


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