Karadzic Was Innocent, Dodik Tells Hague Tribunal

Balkan Insight
Publication date: 
Apr 10 2013

Dodik, the president of Bosnia’s Serb-run entity Republika Srpska, testified at Karadzic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal on Tuesday that there was no a joint criminal enterprise by the Serb leadership to forcibly and permanently remove Muslims and Croats from Bosnian territory that had been designated for a new Serb-dominated state.

Addressing Karadzic directly in the courtroom, Dodik said: “I have never heard anyone, not at a single meeting or assembly session, promote such goals, nor did I hear you say that at any time, nor did I hear you request it, nor were you in the position to issue orders for such enterprises, especially not criminal ones”.

Dodik said that he never heard his former leader ask anyone “to commit any crime”.

“Karadzic never insisted that any crimes be committed, nor have I witnessed him participating in them,” said Dodik.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Tieger reminded Dodik that in 2001, he had accused the Serbian Democratic Party, which Karadzic led, of organising crimes and participating in them.

The prosecutor quoted Dodik’s statement to the regional parliament in Banja Luka in which he said that “it should be openly said that the crimes were orchestrated under the leadership of the Serbian Democratic Party” and that the perpetrators “must answer for them before the Hague Tribunal”.

Dodik agreed he said made the statement but said he had only done it for political reasons, and that it was not true.

“That was a political struggle between myself and the Serbian Democratic Party. It was a political speech which does not necessarily have to be based on facts, but I do not deny I said that,” Dodik responded.

Asked whether he “accepts or denies that mass crimes were committed against Muslims and Croats”, Dodik replied: “A civil war was going on. Serbs, Croats and Muslims all had organised military power. There were violations of the rules of war and crimes on all three sides.”

Dodik also claimed that “where they were not armed and did not support military factions, Muslims were left alone and there were no proof of crimes”.

He said that Karadzic persistently sought a peaceful resolution to the conflict and demanded that paramilitaries who committed crimes face justice.

Karadzic, who led Republika Srpska and the Serbian Democratic Party during the war, is being tried for the expulsion of Muslims and Croats across Bosnia, genocide in Srebrenica, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo during the siege of the city, as well as taking UN peacekeepers hostages between 1992 and 1995.

In his testimony, Dodik said the Bosnian war was caused by the “unilateral secession” from Yugoslavia in 1991 and 1992 by the Party of Democratic Action led by Alija Izetbegovic. Izetbegovic, who was the first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, died in October 2003.

Dodik said that at the time, Izetbegovic was promoting the introduction of a society based on Islamic values and sharia.

“I could see, day in day out, the operative development of these political goals from Izetbegovic’s declaration which clearly stated that wherever Muslims establish authority, they have to organise an Islamic state,” he said.

He said that the Party of Democratic Action, as a “pronouncedly nationalistic party”, was “consistently trying to violate the carefully balanced structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina based on the fact that there were three peoples living there.

He said that Izetbegovic’s aim of creating unified Bosnia and Herzegovina under his party’s control was intended to lead to “Muslim domination”.

The witness emphasised he was not a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, but that he believed Izetbegovic’s policy had dangerous intentions and laid the groundwork for the conflict.

Prosecutor Tieger reminded Dodik of a previous statement he had made, in which he alleged that Karadzic took 36 million Deutschmarks out of Republika Srpska in 1997.

Dodik replied that he later learned that the money was “invested into materials for rebuilding Republika Srpska” and deposited with companies in Serbia.

The trial continues.