Canadian Serb Milan Lesic brought thousands of Canadian dollars and German marks to Republika Srpska. As a token of gratitude, Karadzic gave him a pistol and Mladic gusle. The fact that the witness saw Karadzic and Mladic last in 2001 in Belgrade, when they were fugitives from international justice, speaks about the depth of their friendship. VRS (Serb Army) general Ljubomir Obradovic started his evidence later today.
SENSE Tribunal — Radovan Karadzic’s trial continued today with the evidence of Milan Lesic, who founded a humanitarian organization in Canada which sent supplies and money to the political and military leadership in Republika Srpska (RS). The prosecution called him in order to tender through him a series of video recordings and photographs documenting the witness’s wartime meetings with Karadzic, Mladic and other RS leaders.
The witness handed over the video recordings, photographs and other documents pertaining to the work of the Republika Srpska Humanitarian Organization at a hearing before the Canadian Supreme Court in 2009. The materials include a video recording of a meeting on 11 July 1993 at which Karadzic congratulated Mladic on taking very little time to capture Trnovo. He remarked that this time the international community ‘did not bat an eyelid’, unlike its furious reaction to the operations in which Konjevic Polje and Cerska were taken.
Prosecutor West showed a video of the witness’s meeting with Mladic in Belgrade, on 16 July 1995, at the time when the Serb forces, as the indictment alleges, were busy executing 8.000 men and boys captured in the fall of the Srebrenica enclave. Mladic spoke on the phone to someone. He asked the other person ‘how things are going with Vinko’, mentioned the stadium and the commander of the Drina Wolves unit, known as Legenda, and ordered, ‘go full steam ahead with maximum security’.
The next day, on 18 July, Lesic traveled with Petar Salapura from Belgrade to Han Pijesak, where the VRS Main Staff was located. He saw generals Momcilo Perisic and Milan Gvero there; a group photograph with Mladic he took at the time confirms their presence. The witness later handed the photo to the OTP investigators. On 19 July, the witness met with Radovan Karadzic in his office in Pale.
The witness first got in touch with Karadzic, Krajisnik and Mladic in December 1992. He subsequently travelled about a dozen times to Republika Srpska and Serbia. As he recounted, he gave tens of thousands of Canadian dollars and German marks to the VRS Main Staff. He also gave money directly to Karadzic and Krajisnik. As a token of their gratitude, Karadzic gave him a pistol and Mladic gusle, a traditional folk instrument.
The end of the war in BH obviously did not put a stop to the support, since the witness kept in touch with Karadzic, even while the latter was a fugitive from international justice. Lesic met with Karadzic and Mladic separately in 2001 in Belgrade. Less than a year after Karadzic’s arrest, in early 2009, the witness was approached in a church in Canada by Momcilo Krajisnik’s nephew who asked him for money to help Karadzic.
In the cross-examination, the witness agreed with all the arguments Karadzic put to him. He agreed that the Serb side ‘lost the media war’ and was ‘unjustly’ demonized in the world media, that the Serb soldiers wore bad-quality uniforms and were poorly fed and this resulted in the shortage of food for the prisoners. The witness also concurred that Mladic’s remarks that the Turks had to be killed were ‘an exaggeration and nothing but bragging in the atmosphere which prevailed in the car’ in which Mladic was driving him to Zepa. When the witness was asked whether the Serbs had done anything they should be ashamed of, the witness said he never believed the media reports, including those about mass murders in Srebrenica.
After Milan Lesic completed his evidence, the prosecution called VRS general Ljubomir Obradovic, former head of the Operations Section in the Operations and Training Administration of the VRS Main Staff. He will testify about the structure and functioning of the VRS Main Staff.