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Courtside: Bosanska Krajina Genocide Trial

By Vjera Bogati in The Hague (TU No. 291, 25-29 November, 2002)
By IWPR

Sejmenovic, who like Brdjanin was a deputy in the Bosnia-Hercegovina assembly before the war, described the accused as showing “hawkish” tendencies at that time.


During that period, Brdjanin demanded that "economic regionalisation" of the country be discussed, but "it was obvious from what had previously happened in Croatia that this was a pretext for ethnic division", claimed the witness.


"Judging from his active role in the parliament, I concluded that he had or wanted to have an influential position in the SDS (The hard line Serb nationalist party that ran the war)."


Brdjanin is accused of responsibility for a campaign of persecutions and genocide of non-Serbs in the area of north-west Bosnia, known as Krajina.


As an SDS parliamentarian, he was appointed to the position of the head of Bosnian Serb emergency government, named the crisis staff, in the self-proclaimed Autonomous Region of Krajina.


The witness said that Brdjanin publicly supported the "war option" for Bosnia-Hercegovina in the weeks and months leading up to the outbreak of hostilities in April 1992, when Serb forces were unleashed on their Croat and Muslim neighbours.


Sejmenovic also claimed to have heard that Brdjanin had once appeared on television to tell non-Serbs not to bother buying firewood for the following winter because they would not need it.


Brdjanin's defence team argued that the witness was giving evidence based on what he heard, not what he had actually seen.


Defence counsel John Ackerman presented evidence that showed, he claimed, deportations and detentions around Prijedor in 1992 were not the fault of Brdjanin. "The Prijedor crisis staff ignored instructions of the regional administration in Banja Luka and sent incorrect accounts of what was going on," the lawyer told the court.


Sejmenovic agreed that there was a power struggle between municipal and regional authorities, but disagreed with the suggestion that Prijedor crisis staff acted independently from Brdjanin's crisis staff.


Vjera Bogati is an IWPR correspondent in The Hague and a journalist with SENSE news agency.