Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Witness Testimony Over in ICJ Genocide Case

TU No 446, 31-Mar-06
The Sarajevo lawyers called just two people to back up their claims that Belgrade was responsible for genocide in Bosnia during the war there – Harvard University Islamic architecture expert Andras Riedlmayer and British General Sir Richard Dannat.

Dannat discussed such issues as relations between the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, and Belgrade. While the VRS operated independently to a certain degree, he said, its “overall purpose was... initially framed in Belgrade”. He also noted operations carried out in Bosnia by the Yugoslav Army and Serbian paramilitaries.

Riedlmayer spoke about the link between genocide and the destruction of religious and cultural heritage. He told the court that in parts of Bosnia occupied by Serb forces where he had carried out research, over 75 per cent of Roman Catholic sites had been seriously damaged or destroyed along with almost 100 per cent of Muslim places of worship.

Next up, the Serbian lawyers called a total of seven witnesses as part of their effort to ward off claims that Belgrade was responsible for genocide in Bosnia.

As if as a direct answer to Dannat’s testimony, among them was General Sir Michael Rose, another British army officer who headed the United Nations Protection Force in Bosnia, UNPROFOR. Rose described the conflict in Bosnia as a civil war in which all three sides committed crimes.

“I think it would certainly be true to say that [VRS commander Ratko] Mladic had his own agenda and that the regime in Belgrade may have been morally supporting it and materially supporting it, but they were not controlling it in a military sense,” he said.

The court also heard from former Bosnian Serb prime minister Vladimir Lukic, and his deputy Vitomir Popovic. Both testified that in the time they were in office during the war, Republika Srpska was a de facto independent state.

“No one else could have, and to my knowledge, did not even attempt to command the army of Republika Srpska,” Lukic told the court.

Amongst the remaining witnesses who testified on behalf of Belgrade were the ex-Yugoslav parliamentary speaker Dragoljub Micunovic and the French demographer Jean Paul Sardon.

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