‘Humanitarian convoys smuggled weapons in Bosnia war’


The Hague : Humanitarian convoys were used to smuggle weapons to Muslims during the Bosnia war from 1992-95, Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, accused of genocide and war crimes, has told the UN Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

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“Everything was smuggled through these convoys – weapons, military equipment, cameras, food,” Karadzic said Monday, while cross-examining a prosecution witness.

Bosnian Serb forces stopped only a few convoys, and Muslim officials stored away humanitarian aid and sold it in the black market, Karadzic said.

Prosecution witness David Harland, who served with the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia from 1993 to 1995, said Karadzic’s accusations were “absolutely false”.

“The things you mention were never seen in the hands of Muslims soldiers,” Harland said.

“There were criminal elements among Muslim authorities, but it was Serbs who cut and reduced humanitarian aid for the suffering population. We knew that food was partly being diverted to black market and to the Bosnian army, but you were robbing the convoys,” he said.

On being pressed by Karadzic, Harland conceded that 10,000 humanitarian flights landed at Sarajevo airport during the war and only few were stopped.

“I think that at the beginning of the war one plane was shot down and that it was done by Croats,” Harland said.

Harland said some peacekeepers were involved in black marketing food and oil from humanitarian aid. He also conceded that weapons were being smuggled by Muslims to UN protected zones, which were supposed to be demilitarised.