Courtside: Galic Case

By Tatjana Matic in The Hague (TU 303, 03-07 March 2003)

Courtside: Galic Case

By Tatjana Matic in The Hague (TU 303, 03-07 March 2003)

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

Doctors Slavenko Terzic and Dragoje Kulic were appearing to defend General Stanislav Galic, a former corps commander of Bosnian Serb forces, who is accused of bombarding the city.

In their testimony, both doctors said the people of the city - where thousands were killed and maimed in four years of shelling - suffered no extra levels of stress.

“Everyone struggles for life here,” insisted Dr Kulic, a psychiatrist. “So it’s not precise to say that all Sarajevo inhabitants were struggling for life at the time of shelling.”

Dr Kulic dismissed reports which claimed that the combination of bombardment, death, starvation and fear took a heavy psychological toll on the inhabitants of the city. Actually, he claimed, nothing could be further from the truth.

“The number of injuries and the way of getting them is not a condition for serious trauma,” said Dr Kulic. “The level of psychological damage depends on individual perception as well.”

In fact, said Dr Kulic, the suicide rate during the war in Sarajevo was actually small - lower than the suicide rate among Slovenian teenagers.

He added that reports from a hospital in Dobrinja, in Bosnian Serb territory, showed children and babies had not suffered psychologically from the war.

The testimony is a contrast to prosecution claims that Bosnian Serb forces surrounded the city for four years and fired on it indiscriminantly, killing civilians at random.

Both witnesses were summoned by General Galic, who is charged with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war.

Doctor Terzic, a doctor of history, said Serb behaviour in the early part of the war could be explained by reverses they had suffered in their past.

“Traumatised history caused panic and fear among Serbs about losing their own country, and that can be considered as one of main reasons of Serbian behaviour in 1992-93,” he told the court.

A third defence witness, General Radovan Radinovic from the former Yugoslav army, said that contrary to many reports, Bosnian Serb forces had encountered many difficulties in the fighting around Sarajevo.

He told the court that they had occupied difficult positions, and had inferior weapons and fewer men.

Commenting on allegations made earlier in the trial - that the government forces were outnumbered - Radinovic said that whereas Serb forces had only two categories of specialised sniper soldiers, the former deployed three.

Radinovic told the court that the defendant, who commanded the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, once received a warm letter of support from a United Nations officer, who expressed gratitude for Galic’s cooperation during the war.

He also claimed that Galic, while commanding regular military formations, had less control over Serb paramilitary formations that operated in the area.

Tatjana Matic is an IWPR contributor.

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