Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change
Judges in the trial of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have rejected a request to subpoena the current president of Greece so that he can be interviewed by the accused’s defence team.
In a request he made in January, Karadzic asked judges to subpoena the current president of Greece so that he could be interviewed by the defence team. The accused argued that a subpoena was necessary because Papoulias had previously indicated that he would not voluntarily accede to a request for such an interview.
In the request, Karadzic said he met Papoulias - Greece’s president since 2005 and its foreign minister during most of the Bosnian war – ten days after a mortar attack on Sarajevo’s Markale market on February 5, 1994. The attack killed more than 60 people and injured over 100.
During his trial, Karadzic has repeatedly asserted that the incident was staged by the Bosnian government itself, and that bodies found at the scene were “dummies and old corpses”. He is challenging previous tribunal findings that the mortar shell was fired from Bosnian Serb-controlled territory.
In the January request, Karadzic argued that when he met Papoulias on February 15, 1994, he informed him that “the Bosnian Serbs had not been responsible for the shell that landed on Markale market”.
In the same meeting, Karadzic said that he told the then-Greek foreign minister that “the Serbs were ready to place some of their heavy weapons under UN control”, and outlined several other discussions he had with Papoulias during the war, among other things concerning United Nations personnel who were taken hostage in 1995, and Karadzic’s desire for a “peace process”.
“There is ample reason to believe that President Papoulias has information which is relevant and necessary to Dr Karadzic’s defence against charges that he was responsible for the Markale-1 shelling, that he was part of a joint criminal enterprise against Muslims in 1994 and 1995, and that he was responsible for the ‘hostage taking’ of UN personnel in May 1995,” the request stated.
“Markale-1” refers to the February 1994 attack; a second mortar bombardment hit the same location in August 1995.
This week, the judges rejected the arguments set out in the January request for a subpoena, and said that “given the accused’s personal involvement with these [wartime] meetings, it is difficult to see why there is any need for his legal advisor to meet with and interview President Papoulias, when both he and his legal advisor are both perfectly aware” of the evidence the president could give if called to testify in the accused’s defence case.
Shortly after the judges handed down their decision, Karadzic wrote a letter to the Greek ambassador to The Netherlands stating that he intended to call Papoulias as a defence witness. Karadzic asked the ambassador to let him know whether the president would testify willingly, “as I will otherwise be requesting a subpoena for his attendance”.
Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.
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