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Karadzic Wants Subpoena for Bosniak Commander

Defendant says Naser Oric’s testimony could show that Bosnian Serb attack on Srebrenica was justified.
By David Nelson

Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic has asked the Hague court to subpoena Naser Oric, a Bosniak commander who was tried for and acquitted of war crimes at the tribunal.

Karadzic, who represents himself in court, claims that Oric can provide evidence for his defence that the Bosnian Serb army attack on the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 was a justified military action.

Hague prosecutors have accused Karadzic of planning and overseeing the Srebrenica massacre in which more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed after the town was captured by Serb forces in July 1995.

However, legal counsel for Oric informed Karadzic that their client had been advised not to give testimony before the Hague tribunal, due to an ongoing investigation taking place in Republika Srpska concerning alleged crimes committed near Srebrenica during 1992-1995.

Oric is known to the Hague tribunal from his previous indictment for charges of murder and cruel treatment of Serbs in 1992 and 1993.

Found guilty in 2004, Oric was acquitted on appeal in 2006.

“Brigadier Oric can testify to inside information that the Bosnian government sacrificed Srebrenica and its residents as part of a greater strategy,” Karadzic states in his November 13 motion.

The end result of that strategy, Karadzic alleges in the document, was to control the capital Sarajevo.

Karadzic also states that the Bosnian army acted as the aggressor in the Srebrenica area, obtaining weapons and concealing them from United Nations peacekeepers in order to attack nearby Serb villages during the period from 1992 until 1995.

In the document, Karadzic also claims Bosnian government forces made an effort to “obtain international intervention” by positioning themselves close to UN positions and drawing fire from the Serbian army.

“The evidence of Brigadier Oric is relevant to show that Dr. Karadzic had a legitimate military reason to order an attack on Srebrenica,” the motion says.

The request also refers to the pending investigation by Republika Srpska prosecutors and the possibility that Oric might incriminate himself by giving testimony in The Hague.

“Dr Karadzic has no objection to the Trial Chamber ordering that [Oric’s] testimony in this trial not be used against him in other proceedings, or that certain answers be given in closed session,” the motion said.

David Nelson is an IWPR-trained reporter in The Hague.