THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Wednesday that former Bosnian Serb army chief Gen. Ratko Mladic has to testify in the defense case of his former political master Radovan Karadzic.
Judges granted Karadzic's request for a subpoena Wednesday and ordered it served on Mladic in the court's detention unit. The subpoena sets up a tense courtroom reunion of two men accused of being the chief architects of Bosnian Serb atrocities in Bosnia's 1992-95 war that left some 100,000 people dead.
Karadzic requested a subpoena in April, saying Mladic — who also is on trial at the tribunal — refused to testify voluntarily. Mladic is expected to be called as a witness in January, according to the decision issued Wednesday.
Both men insist they are innocent of charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. While their indictments are virtually identical, they are on trial separately because Mladic was captured later than Karadzic. Both men spent years in hiding in an effort to avoid having to face justice in The Hague.
Karadzic's lawyer, Peter Robinson, said Mladic's lawyers could still appeal the subpoena decision. "Assuming we do get him in court, Karadzic is going to keep his questions as focused as possible to respect (Mladic's) right not to incriminate himself and then we will see what the prosecution asks," Robinson said in a telephone interview.
Robinson said the two former top Bosnian Serbs remain on good terms. In his request for a subpoena, Karadzic said Mladic could testify that he never told Karadzic that "prisoners from Srebrenica would be, were being, or had been executed." Responsibility for the 1995 murder of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica enclave by Bosnian Serbs is one of the key allegations in both men's indictments and the worst massacre on European soil since World War II.
Karadzic added that Mladic also likely would say that the two men never "agreed or planned to expel Muslims or Croats" from Serb-held territory in Bosnia and that he regularly assured Karadzic that sniping and shelling in Sarajevo "was not indiscriminate or disproportionate" and that Bosnian Serb forces did not fire shells that slammed into a Sarajevo market in 1994 and 1995, killing dozens of people.
In a written response to Karadzic's subpoena request, Mladic said that the court's rules mean that he cannot be compelled to testify against himself and that because questions in Karadzic's trial likely would be closely linked to his own indictment, he "would rightly assert his right not to answer them."