Courtside: Galic Trial

By Vjera Bogati in The Hague (TU 298, 27-31 January 2003)

Courtside: Galic Trial

By Vjera Bogati in The Hague (TU 298, 27-31 January 2003)

Tuesday, 22 February, 2005

He rejected allegations to the contrary, given in testimony by former United Nations military observers, as “lies”.

As a defence witness for his former commander Stanislav Galic - who is accused of allowing his troops to fire into Sarajevo - Indjic claimed that "judging from all the activities of the Sarajevo-Romania corps one can conclude that it simply guarded the established confrontation lines".

Prosecution witness Partick Handerberry, a former UN military observer, had testified that Galic and Indjic personally told him in 1992 that the goal of their forces was to destroy the city or cleanse it of its Muslim inhabitants. But Indjic dismissed that as “a fabrication”.

Indjic was often mentioned in the testimonies of former observers as a person through whom they communicated with Galic and his forces, and was seen as a person of considerable authority.

Handerberry claimed that Indjic knew of the civilian casualties because he once told him that such a practice was a "necessary evil" – a claim denied by the latter.

Galic also claims he was not aware of any civilian deaths. In order to support that, Indjic testified that he never received protests alleging such crimes.

The prosecution reminded the court that Handerberry personally lodged dozens of protests against shelling to Galic's liaison office in the last months of 1992. But Indjic called this a “lie” and said he never saw or heard any such comminications.

He testified that Galic's forces had no snipers and that they shelled only military targets in Sarajevo. "Mistakes in shelling were possible", he admitted, but at the same time he attempted to tip the balance of responsibility for civilian deaths towards the Muslim side. "There was a lot of talking about a (Muslim) unit called 'Seve' acting against their own people," said Indjic.

Handerberry said he personally saw Galic's soldiers firing indiscriminately into Sarajevo.

But Indjic claimed he was “surprised” to hear about such practices. He persistently repeated that could not even remember who Handerberry was, although the latter had earlier told the court he had been on very friendly terms with the former.

The prosecution then presented a photograph from 1992 of Indjic with his arm around Handerberry's shoulder. Indjic replied he did not remember the occasion.

Prosecutor Mark Ierace said Indjic received the information about attacks on Sarajevans during the war by relpying that "Serbs had been persecuted for centuries" or that the attacks by Serbs were undertaken by "uncontrolled elements".

As Indjic repeated his denials yet again, the presiding judge suggested that the prosecutor give up quoting the testimonies of his witnesses, saying it was "improbable" that the witness would alter his response.

In a separate development, Galic’s defence team made an official request for the removal of presiding judge Alphonsus Orie, whose impartiality has been question by the defendant and his lawyers.

The defence team pointed out that last year Orie confirmed (signed) an amended indictment against Ratko Mladic, which alleges that Mladic collaborated with Galic in committing crimes in Sarajevo area.

Galic's lawyers claim that, by confirming this indictment, Orie unintentionally expressed a biased opinion towards the defendant, by acknowledging that there was a case to answer. This, the defence asserts, means he should not be considered as the judge to rule in Galic’s own trial.

The issue is to be considered by the chamber presided over by Judge Orie.

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

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