Defence Accuses Muslims
of Lying in Dusan Tadic
War Crimes Trial
‘What I suggest to you is that you're not telling
the truth about not seeing pictures or the
TV about this case.’
—Steven Kay, Defence Attorney, to a witness.
By Ian Geohegan
THE HAGUE, July 17 (Reuters) - A British barrister, defending an alleged Bosnian Serb war criminal on trial in The Hague, on Wednesday accused two witnesses, both Muslim survivors of the notorious Omarska prison camp, of lying to a U.N. court.
In firm, deliberate cross-examination, Steven Kay led witnesses through the minutiae of their evidence against Dusan "Dusko" Tadic, aiming to discredit the testimony as unreliable. Tadic's trial, the first before an international war crimes tribunal since those at Nuremberg and Tokyo after World War Two, resumed this week after a 14-day recess to accomodate genocide hearings against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both of whom remain at large in Bosnia.
Tadic denies charges of killing and torturing non-Serbs in the Prijedor region of northwest Bosnia, in particular at the Omarska camp. He has been in jail since his arrest in Germany 29 months ago and says he is a victim of mistaken identity. The trial, now in its ninth week, has heard 33 prosecution witnesses build a picture of a widespread and systematic Serb campaign to "ethnically cleanse" areas of Bosnia of non-Serbs.
Several said Tadic was at Omarska during the summer of 1992. He maintains that he never went to the camp. Tadic's defence argues that much of the evidence is hearsay, with witnesses merely giving second or third-hand descriptions of Tadic and alleged events to the panel of three U.N. judges.
Kay has asked witnesses who claimed to have seen Tadic at Omarska whether they had seen newspaper or television coverage of the trial before they were asked last month to identify Tadic from a photo-montage put together by tribunal investigators. "What I suggest to you is that you're not telling the truth about not seeing pictures or the TV about this case," he told Kasim Mesic, an elderly Muslim man.
In a quivering, but defiant response, Mesic said: "Sir, many of my family were killed (during the war). I was not able to look at anything related to that war." Kay suggested that Mesic was so angry about what had happened to him and his family that he was prepared to lie. "Has that... caused you to be determined to do your bit... to say something about a Serb charged in this court even though you didn't see him (at Omarska) as you have claimed?" he asked.
A confused Mesic hurriedly replied: "Yes."
Another witness, referred to only as "R" and hidden from the public gallery by screens, said a fellow Omarska inmate had pointed out Tadic at the camp and told him: "That's Dusko." He told the court he remembered having seen a photograph of the same man on the sports pages of a weekly newspaper before the war. Tadic was a karate expert. In often heated exchanges, Kay asked "R" if his hatred of Serbs had tainted his evidence.
"I do not hate anyone. I'm telling you again that the horror (of Omarska) is something I do not wish to follow (in the news). It is worse than any (Alfred) Hitchcock film," "R" replied. Mehmedalija Huskic, a 49-year-old Muslim, told the court he was pistol-whipped by Tadic, whom he had known for 20 years.
Under cross-examination, Huskic admitted there were discrepencies between his testimony in court and a signed statement he had made previously. Asked if he told the truth in his earlier statement, Huskic said: "I think so. There must have been a translation mistake."
The trial continues on Thursday.
THE DUSAN TADIC TRIAL
Berserkistan, June 21 · Tribunal Heads of Horrors at Trnopolje Prison Camp
Berserkistan, June 18 · Eyewitness Places Dusan Tadic at Omarska Prison Camp
Berserkistan, June 14 · Friend Watched as Tadic Slit Muslim Police Throats
Berserkistan, June 11 · First Eyewitness Testifies Against Dusan Tadic
Berserkistan, June 7 · Tadic Defense Won’t Challenge Serb-Yugoslavia Caused War
Berserkistan, May 9 · Historian Disclaims Civil War Defense in Tadic Trial
Berserkistan, May 8 · Historian Sets Context for Atrocities in Day 2 of Tadic Trial
Berserkistan, May 8 · Muslims in Sarajevo React to Start of Tadic Trial
Berserkistan, May 7 · Defense: Tadic Had No Role in Murder, Torture
Berserkistan, May 7 · On Trial's Eve, Tadic Claims Innocence
Berserkistan, May 7 · Childhood Friend Says Tadic was Cruel, Artistic
Key Facts about the War Crimes Tribunal
War Crimes Profile: Dusan Tadic
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from the United Nations
Coalition for International Justice
Reports concerning human rights abuses in Bosnia published by Intac Access
Major War Criminals/Suspects from CalTech's Bosnia Site
Reports on War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia from CalTech's Bosnia Site
Berserkistan World Links for more International Justice Resources
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