Muslim Army Ordered to “Create Panic Among Chetniks and Civilians” in Sarajevo -
October 7, 2010


Written by: Andy Wilcoxson


Hearing date: June 23, 2010


Gen. John Wilson, the former chief of the UN Military Observers (UNMOs) in Sarajevo, concluded his testimony at the Radovan Karadzic trial on June 23rd.


The Best Informed Man in the UN


Wilson told the court that nobody in the UN knew more about military affairs in the Balkans than he did. Karadzic put it to the witness that “from the level of information on military matters, there was nobody above you; right?” And the witness confirmed, “On military matters, that’s correct.”


Karadzic then proceeded to go through an entire laundry list of things that the witness testified that he did not know about Sarajevo. He didn’t know the basic geography of the city. He didn’t know where the Serb forces or the Muslim forces were deployed. He didn’t know which neighborhoods were held by Serbs and which were held by Muslims. He didn’t even know that the First Corps of the ABiH was stationed in Sarajevo.


Karadzic also got a couple of new admissions of ignorance out of the witness. Wilson testified that “I never heard of the Patriotic League until you mentioned it here, Mr. Karadzic.”


Karadzic put it to the witness that the Muslims had fifteen brigades in Sarajevo and the witness replied, “I didn’t know that that was the organization of the Muslim forces within the city. I don’t know that they can be described as legitimate targets unless you look at their specific deployment.”


Karadzic pointed out to the witness that “Earlier, you said that you didn’t know the deployment of Muslim forces. Is that still your answer?” And the witness confirmed, “Yes, it is.”


Eventually the prosecutor grew tired of Karadzic rehashing all of the facts that the witness was ignorant of. The prosecutor objected saying, “All these questions have been asked and answered already by the witness. We’ve been going on at this for quite some time.” The judge agreed and scolded Karadzic saying, “You wasted so long a time putting unnecessary questions.”


Karadzic explained the point of the exercise saying, “The point is to see whether something changed, as far as the memory of the general is concerned. He didn’t know a great many things that he had to know, in view of the position he had held.” He said, “If you do not know where the Serb forces were and where the Muslim forces were, and where the Serb settlements were and the Muslim settlements were, how can you [say] that it was the Serbs firing?”


Karadzic said the witness had “misrepresented things. He ascribed certain things to the Serbs that had been done by the Muslims.”


One of the things the witness misrepresented in his testimony for the prosecution was a detention center in a tunnel to the south of Sarajevo where it was alleged that Serbs were holding Muslim women and children prisoner.


When he was being examined by the prosecutor, he testified that he’d “received an allegation from the Presidency representatives that there was a tunnel somewhere to the south of Sarajevo which was being used to hold a large number of non-Serb people, many of them women and children, and the Presidency were concerned about the safety of these people.” He told the prosecutor that he spoke to Biljana Plavsic and she gave him permission to visit the tunnel camp. He said, “I followed up on that offer to go and visit those people or to visit that site. However, when we were finally given approval, we were told that it was some considerable distance out of Sarajevo, that our safety could not be assured.”


But Karadzic managed to find a report (exhibit D334) that Gen. Wilson wrote about the detention center on November 24, 1993. The report said, “I raised the issue of detention camps with both parties on a number of occasions. Each party responded that they would permit our visiting the alleged sites (whose existence they each denied), providing we first visited the other parties’ camps. In one case, it was agreed that we could visit a Serb camp alleged to exist at Pale, and a Muslim centre located in a road tunnel to the south of Sarajevo. We had to abandon the proposal when the Presidency said we could visit their location but they could not guarantee our safety.”


After reading out the report Karadzic said, “General, do you see now that it was the Muslims that held the Serbs in a tunnel to the south of Sarajevo, not the other way around?” The witness replied, “Yes, I do. I believe this document rather than my recollection at this time.”


A Dishonest Newsday Reporter


Wilson also testified that a reporter from Newsday was aggressively filing false news reports from Sarajevo. He said, “I had a number of conversations with this particular reporter. He had a story that he insisted upon, and a version of it that I don’t believe was supported by the facts, and I simply tried to tell him the story that I knew. And he would not accept it. He was very aggressive.”


Although the witness did not identify the dishonest reporter by name, the most prominent (and possibly the only) Newsday reporter in Bosnia at that time would have been Roy Gutman.


Wilson’s Reports


Karadzic also went through some reports that Wilson drafted during the war. One report spoke to the objectives of the Muslims and the Serbs in Sarajevo.


A report dated January 22, 1993 (exhibit D336) said: “A BH Army offensive in Sarajevo would appear to remain on hold. No major developments should be expected in the Sarajevo area. Without unacceptable casualties, the capture of the city is an unobtainable objective for the Serbs. The BSA will remain in a defensive posture and rely on superiority in indirect firing weapons to deflect any BH Army offensive.


“BH Army forces will, as a priority, continue to apply pressure to disrupt Bosnian Serb Army lines of communication and strengthen their links to the Srebrenica and Gorazde pockets in eastern Bosnia...They would also assist in ensuring BSA compliance with territorial agreements and place BiH Army forces in an advantageous position for a resumption of hostilities which they probably regard as inevitable.


“BiH Army forces may be prepared to launch an offensive using their troops, without Croat support, if they believe their position in peace negotiations is so weak they must provoke foreign intervention.


“In summary, BiH Army forces military objectives are assessed as: Launch an offensive in the Sarajevo area if they consider their bargaining position in negotiations untenable and intervention is the only recourse. Continue to re-arm and build up forces and resources for a resumption of the war when they are in a more advantageous position.”


Together with Wilson’s reports Karadzic unsuccessfully attempted to exhibit the orders issued by the 1st Corps of the ABiH to the Muslim troops in Sarajevo.


One such example (e-court 1D1870) was an order, dated December 8, 1993, issued to the 5th Motorized Brigade and the 102nd Motorized Brigade of the ABiH. The units were ordered to “take the Nedzarici area and create favorable conditions for moving further towards Ilidza.” They were also instructed to “create panic among Chetniks and civilians.”


When Karadzic read out the orders that had been issued to the ABiH to take-over the Serbian neighborhoods of Nedzarici and Ilidza and to “create panic” among the civilian population, the Prosecutor objected saying, “Your Honor, I don’t think that this document should be admitted.”


Naturally, Judge Kwon agreed with the Prosecutor. He said, “Mr. Karadzic, we are concerned about your use of time. The general did not know anything about this document, so we will not admit this document.”


Obviously it screws-up the whole story the Tribunal wants to tell if Radovan Karadzic uses the orders issued by the command of the Muslim army to prove that the Muslims were deliberately terrorizing the civilian population of Sarajevo – since that is precisely the crime that the Prosecutor wants to ascribe to him. Therefore, this kind of evidence can’t be admitted.


Karadzic also exhibited a report (exhibit D337) that David Harland (another prosecution witness) wrote for Gen. Wilson on August 28, 1993 to show that he was doing his best to bring an end to the war.


The report said, “The Serb Assembly met in Pale yesterday for the first of two-day long session. Karadzic is pushing hard to have the Geneva package accepted by the delegates. Many of those delegates, however, are arguing strongly against making the territorial concessions called for.


“Karadzic is reported to have lost patience with the hard-line delegates, calling some of them paranoid. He is arguing that gains in international legitimacy present the Serbs control approximately 70 per cent of the B and H area. Under the Geneva Agreement, they would end up with 52. “


After Karadzic concluded his cross-examination, the Prosecutor did nothing to rehabilitate the witness. She simply said, “Your Honour, I have no re-examination of the witness.”


A complete transcript of this hearing is available at: and



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