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Karadzic's Ally Faces War Crimes Charges in Sarajevo

By Denis Dzidic in Sarajevo (TU No 476, 10-Nov-06)
Mandic is the most senior Bosnian Serb wartime government official to be tried by this court so far.

At the beginning of the war, he served as deputy interior minister and justice minister in the government of the former Bosnian Serb leader and top war crimes fugitive Radovan Karadzic.

In separate hearings held in Sarajevo over the last several months, Mandic was tried for various alleged financial crimes. Last week, he was sentenced to nine years in prison by the state court for organised crime and corruption.

Mandic was also suspected of providing financial assistance to Karadzic for years after the war, helping him escape justice. But these charges have not been proved in court.

Since he couldn’t stand two trials on separate charges simultaneously, the hearings related to war crimes charges started almost immediately after the judgement for financial fraud was renedered.

The indictment against Mandic alleges that he was responsible for several detention facilities in Bosnia, where non-Serb prisoners were held in appalling conditions, tortured and often killed.

He is also accused of leading the Serb attack on the police training centre in Sarajevo in April 1992, where non-Serb trainers were detained and brutally tortured.

Prosecutor Behaija Krnjic said in his opening statement this week that he would invite about 50 witnesses and submit more than 100 documents which he hopes will prove Mandic’s responisbility for the crimes he’s charged with.

However, the defence said they would bring their star witness, British diplomat Lord Paddy Ashdown, in order to challenge the prosecution claims. The defence said Lord Ashdown visited the camps in question and found that they were not in violation of the Geneva conventions.

The defendant said this week he hopes to have a fair trial and again rejected all allegations in the indictment.

He said his justice ministry “had no jurisdiction over camp prisoners”, and shifted the blame on to the army and police instead.

“ I am innocent and I am here only because of my high position in the war-time government,” he told the judges.

The trial continues.

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR reporter.

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