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Karadzic Potential Witness Subpoena Request

Defendant says he wants to call former member of Canadian army who, he claims, operated behind Bosnian Serb lines scouting targets in run-up to NATO airstrikes.
By Rachel Irwin
  • Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY Courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)
    Radovan Karadzic in the ICTY Courtroom. (Photo: ICTY)

Radovan Karadzic has requested that judges subpoena a potential witness to submit to an interview by members of his defence team.

The individual in question, referred to as Witness B, testified during the Canadian trial of Nicholas Ribic, a Canadian national who fought with the Bosnian Serb army during the war and was accused of taking United Nations personnel hostage in May 1995.

Karadzic, who was the wartime Bosnian Serb president, is accused of planning and/or failing to prevent the taking of more than 200 UN hostages in May and June 1995. According to the indictment, some of the hostages were used as human shields to prevent further NATO airstrikes against Bosnian Serb targets.

Several former UN military observers have already testified in Karadzic’s trial about their ordeals. Karadzic has maintained that the men were prisoners of war, not hostages.

According to Karadzic, Witness B was a member of the Canadian army deployed in Bosnia – and, in the months leading up to the NATO airstrikes, was part of a team of “covert operatives who worked behind the Bosnian Serb lines to scout targets…and gather intelligence”.

The UN military observers, who were stationed behind Bosnian Serb lines, “provided [Witness B] with information on locations of targets and equipment and evaluations of the capability of the forces, and had provided intelligence information”, Karadzic states in the request.

“Witness B testified that the UN personnel who were detained were not hostages, but were combatants who were taken as prisoners of war.”

Witness B has “declined” to be interviewed, the accused continues, even though he has information that can “materially assist Dr Karadzic’s case”, especially when it comes to the question of whether UN personnel were acting as “combatants” in May 1995.

Karadzic requests that a subpoena be issued, designating a time and place for the interview, which will be conducted by the accused’s legal adviser, Peter Robinson.

Prosecutors allege that Karadzic, the president of Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1996, is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which "contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory".

He is also accused of planning and overseeing the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead, as well as the massacre of some 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade in July 2008 after 13 years on the run.

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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