Cablegate: Icty: Krajisnik Trial Opens Smoothly

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. The trial of Momcilo Krajisnik before the
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
(ICTY) opened smoothly for the prosecution on Feb. 3.
Krajisnik, who is being tried on eight counts including
charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, held many
prominent positions in the leadership of the Republika Srpska
(RS) during the war, including the presidency, and was
closely associated with Radovan Karadzic and Biljana Plavsic.
In its opening statement, the prosecution argued that
Krajisnik had control and authority over Bosnian Serb
military forces and political organs that committed a variety
of criminal acts, from murder to forced relocation of Bosnian
Muslim and Bosnian Croat populations. Like most high-level
ICTY indictees, Krajisnik is not accused of personally
carrying out these criminal activities. Rather, the
prosecution argued that Krajisnik was a member of a joint
criminal enterprise whose objective was to exterminate large
portions of the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat populations
in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The Chamber has indicated
that the trial could take over two years to complete. End

--------------------------------------------- --
Second only to Karadzic in Power and Influence
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) In a well researched and detailed three-hour
opening statement, Senior Trial Attorney (STA) Mark Harmon
(American) argued that Krajisnik was one of the most powerful
and influential leaders of the RS, second only to notorious
war criminal Radovan Karadzic. He argued that Karadzic was
the republic's "front-man" while Krajisnik operated levers of
power behind the scenes. Harmon painted Krajisnik as a
hard-line nationalist who planned and ordered the mass
killings of Bosnian Muslims and Croats during attacks on
towns during the 1991-1992 portion of the war in BiH, with
the end-goal of exterminating these populations from large
portions of the region. Krajisnik's indictment contains
eight counts, including genocide, crimes against humanity,
and violations of the laws of war. He is accused of
committing these crimes not personally, but as a member of a
joint criminal enterprise (NB: he is charged under Articles
7(1) (individual responsibility) and 7(3) (superior
responsibility) of the ICTY Statute). Members of this
enterprise also include Plavsic and Karadzic. Krajisnik was
originally indicted with former Bosnian Serb president
Plavsic, but Plavsic pled guilty in October 2002 to the crime
against humanity of persecutions. In the course of her plea
agreement's "agreed facts", Krajisnik, Milosevic and Karadzic
are fingered by Plavsic as the key perpetrators of the plan
to eliminate Muslims and Croats from Serb-dominated areas of

3. (SBU) One key piece of evidence that the prosecution
plans to introduce is a document distributed at a 1992
Bosnian Serb Assembly session that outlines six proposed
strategic objectives of the RS. The objectives include
establishing borders that separate the Serbian people from
other ethnic communities in Bosnia, and dividing the
ethnically mixed city of Sarajevo into Serbian and Muslim
portions. The prosecution stated that Karadzic announced
these objectives to the Bosnian Serb Assembly, and that they
were adopted as a formal Decision and signed by Krajisnik in
his capacity as the President of the Bosnian Serb Assembly.

4. (SBU) At the start of the proceedings, the judges of
Trial Chamber I (Judge Orie presiding) indicated that the
case could take well over two years. They allotted the
prosecution 450 hours to present its case-in-chief, not
including the time the defense takes for cross examination.
Because of the length of the proceedings, the defense opted
to defer its opening statement until later in the trial.
Krajisnik, however, requested to make a statement to the
Chamber. In contrast to the behavior of other senior
indictees such as Milosevic or Seselj, Krajisnik made a
short and reserved speech, claiming his innocence and
expressing his belief that the proceedings would result in
the emergence of the truth. Krajisnik, arrested in a
late-night SFOR raid at his home in Bosnia in April 2000, has
been in the ICTY detention facility in Scheveningen awaiting
trial for almost four years.

5. (SBU) Comment: The trial of Momcilo Krajisnik is among the
three or four most important cases to be heard by the ICTY,
in a category that is just below Milosevic, Karadzic and
Mladic. In many respects, the trial will delve deeper than
the Milosevic trial can into the criminal enterprise of RS
leaders, focusing not only on the specific crimes of the
Bosnian war but also the intentions and responsibility of the
senior-most Bosnian Serb leadership. It is also likely to
put flesh on Biljana Plavsic's skeletal, twenty-two paragraph
"factual basis" for her guilty plea. In the hands of a
strong American-led prosecution team and an experienced
presiding judge (who recently issued a judgment in the
"Sarajevo Siege" case against Stanislav Galic), there are
high expectations that the trial might not only prove
Krajisnik's guilt but also go a long way towards establishing
accountability and creating the kind of historical record of
the Balkans conflict that the international community has
expected of the ICTY. End comment.

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