COURTSIDE: Bosanska Krajina Trial

Bosnian crisis staff leader denies it planned to attack Serbs.

COURTSIDE: Bosanska Krajina Trial

Bosnian crisis staff leader denies it planned to attack Serbs.

Saturday, 28 September, 2002

The cases of Radoslav Brdjanin and the terminally-ill Momir Talic were officially separated last week, following the completion of testimony by witness Muhamed Filipovic.

The witness began testifying against both defendants, accused of genocide against Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in northern Bosnia-Hercegovina, a few weeks ago, but cross-examination was postponed owing to Talic's illness.

In the meantime, Talic has been granted provisional release because he has incurable cancer, and is now in Belgrade. He has consented to the completion of Filipovic's evidence in his absence.

The witness - who presided over the Bosnian crisis staff in the region - told the court how the local Serbs armed themselves long before war broke out, and how they used propaganda to heighten ethnic tension.

During cross-examination by the defence, Filipovic expressed sorrow that the Serbs perceived Bosniaks as Turks, saying, "We are Bosnians of the Islamic faith."

The defence counsel pointed out that the Bosniaks had set up a crisis staff at the end of 1991, before the Serbs formed their own. The witness replied that this happened only because the Bosniaks had anticipated a Serb plan to take over the district.

Prosecutor Joanna Korner then presented a document with Brdjanin's name printed at the bottom, dated October 29 1991 - before the creation of the Bosnian crisis staff - containing instructions on how to establish Serbian control of the area.

Filipovic said that he had never seen the document but Bosniaks had all "heard about its existence" which had prompted them to set up their crisis staff.

He added that the Serbs subsequently former their own. The prosecution claims Brdjanin, as the head of the former, supervised the persecution of non-Serbs in the area.

The defence also tried to prove that Bosniaks intended to attack the Serbs, but Filipovic claimed that would be impossible as they had a limited number of men and weapons."You don't go and attack somebody with four (land) mines," he said.

Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor.

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