Karadzic cross-examines Srebrenica witness at trial
Publisher: BBC News
Story date: 24/11/2011
Language: English

The former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, has cross-examined a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre, at his trial for war crimes at The Hague.

Mr Karadzic, who is defending himself, put detailed questions to the man who had just described seeing around 40 men killed at Srebrenica.

He denies 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors say he orchestrated a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Croats.

Mr Karadzic, now 66, was arrested in 2008 after nearly 13 years on the run.

During his time in power, he was president of the self-styled Bosnian Serb Republic and commander of its army during the Bosnian conflict, which left more than 100,000 people dead and more than two million driven from their homes.

Radovan Karadzic was particularly wanted for masterminding the killings at the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, the only episode in the 1990s Balkans wars to have been ruled genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Single survivor

The witness who took the stand on Thursday is known as Protected Witness KDZ039.

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A single man survived among thousands"
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Julian Nicholls

War crimes prosecutor
He described seeing men killed at Srebrenica on 13 July 1995, one of them struck in the back with an axe.

"When we heard the news that Srebrenica had fallen, that's why we had to leave, forcibly, because everybody would be killed," the man said.

"Some old people stayed behind and ended up being killed. They could not get away."

Detained by Bosnian Serb forces on 12 and 13 July 1995, the man was transferred to the Orahovac school in Zvornik, north of Srebrenica, where he managed to survive despite a group of soldiers being detailed to execute him and those held with him.

Prosecutor Julian Nicholls read out a testimony he gave in a previous trial relating to Srebrenica, including how the witness was taken to a field with other Muslim prisoners, where he saw mass killings.

"Soldiers opened fire and the witness saw men fall around him. The witness saw this over and over again," Mr Nicholls said.

"A single man survived among thousands," he said.

About 450 lightly-armed UN-backed Dutch peacekeepers, who were charged with protecting civilians in the "safe" enclave, were overrun on 12 July, 1995 by forces commanded by Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.

Mr Karadzic's trial opened in October 2009, but has been hit by several delays since.

The Srebrenica phase is the fourth and final stage of the prosecution's case – about 60 witnesses are expected to take the stand.

Prosecutors are expected to wrap up this phase by mid-2012.
 

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