(From the Office of the Chief United Nations War Crimes Prosecutor)Florence Hartmann, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:
First of all, the OTP is always very careful in the use of the word ‘victim’. Military or Police casualties from combat should not be considered victims in a criminal investigation context, in the same way people are victims from war crimes, such as summary executions.
Before speaking about the whole area of Podrinja, including at least the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, I would comment on the various figures circulating around the Kravica attack of January 1993. The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed” do not reflect the reality.
During the attack by the BH army on Kravica, Jezestica, Opravdici, Mandici and the surrounding villages (the larger area of Kravica), on the 7th & 8th January 1993, 43 people were killed, according to our information. Our investigation shows that 13 of the 43 were obviously civilians. Our findings are matching with the Bratunac Brigade military reports of battle casualties which are believed in the OTP to be very reliable because they are internal VRS reports.
For the whole region, i.e the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, the Serb authorities claimed previously that about 1400 people were killed due to attacks committed by the BH Army forces for the period of May 1992 to March 1995, when Srebrenica was under the control of Naser Oric. Now the figure has become 3,500 Serbs killed. This figure may have been inflated. Taking the term “victims” as defined previously, these figures just does not reflect the reality.
I wish to name various Serb sources on Serb victims which has circulated until recently. They are maybe not detailed but as they were presented. According to the RS Commission for War Crimes, the number of Serb victims for the Bratunac-Srebrenica-Skelani region was until recently 995 victims (520 Bratunac area and 475 Srebernica area), of which Kravica, 43 victims.
According to “The Chronicle of Our Graves”; a book by Milivoje Ivanisevic, the president of the Belgrade Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbian People, claimed that the number of Serb victims for Bratunac-Srebrenica-Skelani region was 1,200 victims but presented personal details available for only 624 victims. The author claimed that all 353 Kravica inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed” which is not accurate.
Another book, “For the Honourable Cross and Golden Freedom”; a book (1,508 pages) by unknown authors from RS and in collaboration with the RS Ministry of Interior, claimed that the No. of Serb victims for the Bratunac-Srebrenica-Skelani region is 641 victims, all war-related”. [Read full report]
Research and Documentation Center (RDC) in Sarajevo, which includes joint Bosniak, Serb and Croat investigators, recently investigated number of alleged Serb casualties around Srebrenica and concluded that the alleged number of 3,287 Serb casualties in Central Podrinje is actually incorrect and nine to ten times lower than reported by the Serbian media. RDC closely works and aids ICTY Investigations and is funded by both international community and the joint government of Bosnia-Herzegovina (which is composed of Bosniak, Serb and Croat lawmakers). RDC concluded, quote:
The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts. The RDC research of the actual number of Serb victims in Bratunac has been the most extensive carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina and proves that the overall number of victims is three to nine times smaller than indicated by Serbia and Montenegro. Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993 . The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled “Warpath of the Bratunac brigade”, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven…. The number of victims from Central Bosnia buried in Bratunac is consistent with the population movements after the war, especially the Serb population from the suburbs of Sarajevo . Under the Dayton Peace Accords, the suburbs of Sarajevo held by the VRS were to be re-integrated into the city of Sarajevo . The then leadership of the RS called on the local Serb population to leave Sarajevo and even take the graves of their loved ones with them. In fact, such a large majority followed the instructions that parts of the city of Sarajevo remained deserted for months. The remnants of their loved ones have been buried in Bratunac after the war, but their deaths are presented as the result of actions taken by the Bosnian Army units from Srebrenica.
As importantly, a number of foreign nationals (mainly from Serbia and Montenegro and Croatia) are included in the overall figure of Serb victims in Bratunac. At least 15 such individuals lost their lives in Bratunac as a result of fighting; it may be of some significance that all of them were members of a paramilitary group that arrived to Bratunac in April 1992, upon invitation of Bratunac Serb Democratic Party and in coordination with the State Security Service of Republic of Serbia (see testimony of Miroslav Deronjić, President of Municipal Board of SDS Bratunac, at International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia). Some of those individuals are Vesna Krdžalić, Dragica Mastikosa, Aleksandar Grahovac and Sreto Suzić who all died in combat on May 29, 1992 . Subsequently, they were all classified as “victims of Muslim terror” by the RS authorities. However, individuals from Serbia continued arriving to Bratunac throughout the year 1992, if the death records of the Bratunac brigade are to be trusted: one such individual died in fighting in August (Žarko Komnenski) and one more in November (Đuro Vujaklija). Furthermore, death records show that “volunteers” arrived from Serbia to Bratunac even in 1993, such as Dragan Milićev, who died in combat in January 1993 and Dragoslav Stanković who died in February 1993. [Read full report]
Human Rights Watch agrees, quote:
The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history.
But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica.
In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died.
The critics also invoke unreliable statistics. A spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Serbia in the wake of the Oric judgment, for example, claimed that “we have documents showing that 3,260 people were found dead around Srebrenica from 1992-1995.” However, the book Hronike nasih grobalja (Chronicles of Our Graveyards) by the Serb historian Milivoje Ivanisevic (the president of the Belgrade Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbian People), uses the significantly lower figure, of “more than 1,000 persons [who] died,” and contains the list, mostly made of men of military age. Among those killed, there were evidently a significant number of Bosnian Serb soldiers who died in the fighting, like in Kravica. [read full report]
Responding to an ICJ [International Court of Justice] ruling that found the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica constituted genocide, Bosniak and Croat leaders have been calling for the town to be removed from Bosnian Serb Entity Republika Srpska’s [RS] authority.
By Vlatko Vukotic
The International Criminal Court of Justice’s ruling earlier this month on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) genocide case against Serbia has fueled tension on the BiH political scene. The court found that the mass killings at Srebrenica in 1995 constituted genocide and that Serbia had breached the genocide convention by failing to prevent them. However, it acquitted Serbia of direct responsibility.
In the aftermath of the ruling, Bosniak leaders are calling for Srebrenica to secede from the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska (RS).
“The territory of the Srebrenica municipality needs to have the status of district and as such should be taken out of the jurisdiction of the Republika Srpska institutions,” the Bosniak and Croat members of the BiH presidency, Haris Silajdzic and Zeljko Komsic, said in a statement.
“We are entitled to justice.”
A special meeting on the issue, held March 12th, was attended by ambassadors and representatives from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya and the Palestinian Authority. Participants concluded that state and entitiy institutions are obliged to make decisions to implement the ICJ verdict.
RS authorities say any attempt to change the status of Srebrenica would be a violation of the Dayton Peace Agreement and the RS Constitution. They charge that state politicians are exploiting the issue in order to gain a better position in negotiations on police and constitutional reforms.
“Some politicians [are trying to] destroy RS. It is time for them to change their opinion and to turn to economic development that will lead this country towards Europe,” says RS President Milan Jelic.
According to the Peace Implementation Committee, municipal status in BiH is determined by constitutions and relevant state and entity legislation. Any changes, it says, would have to take place within this framework.
German Ambassador Michael Schmunk, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said he did not attend the meeting in Srebrenica because he thought it would not be wise in a situation that is “emotionally heated”.
Prior to the conflicts of the 1990s, Srebrenica’s population was over 75% Muslim, while Serbs constituted just over 22%. Today, however, it is mostly a Serb town. Bosniaks who have remained say the ICJ ruling means that the Serbs should not have authority and that the town should handle its own affairs. The group has threatened to leave if their demand is not met.
Serbian representatives in Srebrenica oppose the secession, and request that international donors pledge more support. Even though they represent the majority in Srebrenica, the Serbs say they receive less financial support that the Bosniak residents.
Both RS and the Federation of BiH have pledged additional support.
The Office of High Representative [OHR] says the Srebrenica municipality resolution on separation from the Republic of Srpska (RS) was unconstitutional.
The resolution adopted by Bosniak members of the municipal assembly was a legal act which exceeded the responsibilities of the municipality as defined by the RS Constitution and the RS Law on Local Self Government and the Municipal Statute, the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia said in a statement published on its web site.
“Institutions at the various levels of Government have the capacity to address the situation and should do so without delay,” the statement added.
“The OHR is particularly concerned about the threat to unilaterally pass a decision on separation of the Municipality from the RS. If the municipal assembly were to act on this, the High Representative would have no choice but to take robust action,” the statement continued.
The statement added that any change to Srebrenica’s status was a matter for the RS and Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities, as well as that the OHR would be informing the municipal, entity and Bosnian authorities of its view on the matter.
“There was a baby shot with three bullets, screaming unbelievably loud… I heard this [Mr. Milosevic], the order not to leave anyone alive and also 10 soldiers from my company can confirm it and in no way can you deny that. I was there. I heard it and you [Mr. Milosevic] as Supreme Commander could have come down there and seen what it was like for us. You are issuing shameful orders to be carried out.” – former Serbian Army soldier during testimony exchange with late Slobodan Milosevic at the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia).
Despite the lack of a verdict the Milosevic trial collected thousands of pages of documentation which will be used in other trials and will help establish a common truth as it operates to prevent revisionism. Through the subpoena power of the court as well as its prestige, the prosecution was able to obtain records that may never have come to light otherwise. They included intercepted telephone calls between Milosevic and Bosnian-Serb leaders,transcripts of secret assembly sessions and the Republika Srpska spell, where members declared, “We have done this so Muslims will cease to exist” and Milosevic’s admission that he diverted money from Federal customs funds to support the Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia.
My experience tells me that not all victims found the tribunals dismal failures. Even though Milosevic avoided a verdict in his trial, I believe some witnesses who gave testimony against him, felt satisfaction. One of them was _____, a frail elderly man with a presence in court that was anything but. His son came to him one morning and said, “Father, my life is over.” His wife and child had been killed. They were found among 20 bodies in the family compound. 19 of whom were women and children.
When Milosevic insisted that people had been killed by NATO bombs, Mr.___ thundered, “No.” And described how the children were taken from the basement and massacred, how the house was burnt. He said people told him not – told him not to go there because they feared he would have a heart attack. My son said, “It is a sin to see children like that.” With what kind of human feelings can someone commit a crime of this kind against children, young people, old people? Though he was crying, his voice remained strong and clear.
Judge May, the presiding Judge asked Milosevic, if, in light of the witness’s condition he had any further questions? I do – I do, he answered, then said, “War is a crime in itself, and it is the innocent who suffer. Is it clear who created the war? You are furious because of the death of your family. Everyone would feel that way. How it came to be war?”
Mr.____ interrupted, “You! You, as president, by sending criminals, the most evil criminals, to commit crimes against children in the eyes of their mothers.”
At the end of his testimony he asked the judges if he could say something. It wasn’t done. But the judges allowed it anyway. Mr. ____ turned to Milosevic, looked him squarely in the eye and said, “I just want to ask you, how could you kill women and children? Have you no human feelings?” There was utter silence in the court room. Milosevic made no response. Other witnesses also had the chance to confront Milosevic, the man they blame most for the loss of loved ones and the destruction of their way of life.
I truly don’t think they believed the tribunal was a dismal failure. As Eric Stover concluded after conducting a study of victim witnesses who had testified at the ICTY. For many study respondents merely being in the court room with the accused while he was under guard, helped to restore their confidence in the order of things. Power, one witness, said flowed back from the accused to me. If only for a brief while this witness finally held sway over his personal tormentor and his current community’s wrong doer. It was at moments like these that tribunal justice what is –was at its most intimate.
Tribunals serve another important purpose. They provide a way for the guilty to repent and gain somepeace with the grievous harm they have caused. In the Milosevic trail, a young Montenegrin conscript called theprosecutor and asked to testify. He described being ordered with a few other soldiers to kill a group of 12 civilians they had found hiding in a house. Women, children, old people, even an infant, he told the court what happened.
“The people shot at began falling down one over the other. What I remember most vividly is how – I remember this very vividly. There was a baby shot with three bullets, screaming unbelievably loud. I came forward to give my evidence because I wanted in this way to express everything that is troubling me. That has been troubling me for the past three years, since I completed my service. Never a night goes by without my dreaming of that child hit by the bullets and crying. I thought if I came forward and told the truth that I will feel easier in my soul. It is the only reason I am here.”
During cross examination Milosevic claimed not a single officer ordered him to kill civilians. He responded. “That is not correct. I heard this, the order not to leave anyone alive and also 10 soldiers from my companycan confirm it and in no way can you deny that. I was there. I heard it and you as Supreme Commander could havecome down there and seen what it was like for us. You are issuing shameful orders to be carried out.”
Milosevic ends by asking whether any promises were made in exchange for his testimony.
“Mr. Milosevic, I am here of my own free will. Mr. Milosevic, when I tell this truth to the person, who in my opinion, is the most responsible for all the crimes, it already makes me you better, I don’t need more.”
Watch or listen full documentary titled War Crimes and the International Criminal Court at: http://fora.tv/fora/showthread.php?t=785
“Until it resolves (its own) war crimes and until it stops treating them as heroes, Serbia does not have the intelligence to enter the EU… a Serbia that protects war criminals must not take a single step forward.” – Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor
“Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic are the most responsible for the crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia… Restarting negotiations (with Serbia) would be a very poor message for Belgrade. Without the arrest of Karadzic and Mladic, without total cooperation with the Court, it would be the wrong idea” said Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte in the conversation.
“Until it resolves (its own) war crimes and until it stops treating them as heroes, Serbia does not have the intelligence to enter the EU. They do not have the manners to enter the EU” – said Carla Del Ponte.
She added that she was very critical of the thoughts of the Slovenian minister of foreign affairs, Dimitri Rupel, that they should not make too strict criteria for Serbia because it is a country important for stability in the west Balkans.
“When I heard your minister talk about restarting the negotiations with Serbia, I was shocked. He knows that is sending false messages. Of course we all want Serbia to enter Europe. Good. However a Serbia that protects war criminals must not take a single step forward. We can not accept that, I think that neither can your minister”, said Del Ponte.
She added that she does not even want to think about what will happen if Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are not arrested by the end of the current open proceedings in the Court.
“Mladic and Karadzic need to be arrested this year, if possible before September, whilst I am still here. What if that does not happen? The decision will have to be made by the UN Security Council.
If the arrest happens before the Court closes its doors, they will have to extend its mandate.
If they are not arrested by 2011, when the appeal proceedings will be closed – and I do not even want to think about that – in that case the UN Security Council would have to make a decision that somebody should give them a trial”, said Del Ponte.
UN CHIEF PROSECUTOR SLAMS GENOCIDE RULING RESPONSE
The Chief United Nations War Crimes prosecutor slammed Europe’s “muted” response to a landmark ICJ ruling.
Carla Del Ponte cited the ruling finding Serbia could have prevented the massacre of Bosniaks in Srebrenica and that it should have punished its perpetrators.
The ICJ court (International Court of Justice) also faulted Serbia for failing to turn over one of the architects of the massacre, General Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.
But the ruling absolved Serbia of direct responsibility for genocide due to lack of evidence.
Del Ponte said that EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana issued a statement after the February 26 ruling which “made no mention whatsoever of the fact that Serbia was found in violation of the Genocide Convention.
Instead, he applauded the fact that there is no collective punishment and that the highest tribunal in the world has closed that page.”
Del Ponte added that Germany – current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency – made a similar statement.
Del Ponte said she was concerned that neither fugitive would be arrested and brought to justice before the court is scheduled to be dismantled in 2010.
“This is truly a potentially devastating development given the tribunal’s completion strategy,” Del Ponte said, adding that she was “worried that we will never see Mladic and Karadzic in our custody. That would have a devastating impact on international justice and on our battle against impunity.”
The representatives of authority and political parties which were today in Srebrenica, think that the Municipality should have the status of a district, be excluded from Republika Srpska jurisdiction and put under BiH jurisdiction. The same as Brcko district, over which, no agreement as to whom it should belong, was reached while the Dayton Peace Accord was being signed.
At the meeting which was organised by Srebrenica Municipality head, Abdulrahman Malkic, present were members of BiH Presidency Haris Silajdzic and Zeljko Komsic, Beriz Belkic, BiH Parliament Speaker, Adil Osmanovic, Vice President of Republika Srpska, President of Democratic Action Party, Sulejman Tihic and Zlatko Lagumdzija, president of Social Democrat party, as well as ambassadors of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Libya, and representatives of international organisations.
The conclusions of the meeting were formulated in 12 points. A team was formed which will co-ordinate the conclusions and the demands of the Steering Committee.
To remind ourselves, the Steering Committee which was formed by returnees to Srebrenica, announced mass exodus on 14 of March, if Srebrenica is not excluded from Republika Srpska, following the judgement of ICJ. However, Collective emigration of Bosniaks from Srebrenica was postponed for April 16, the Initiative committee and co-ordination team for demanding special status of this municipality decided.
The Initiative committee expressed regret for non-appearance of European diplomats to the Srebrenica meeting, and condemned non-attendance of RS representatives as well as their threats directed to genocide victims.
Photo #1: One of Srebrenica’s child victims, underage boy’s bones. Many children were slaughtered during Srebrenica genocide in which over 8,000 people perished. (Photo courtesy of the Advocacy Project)
Photo #2: Among the body bags: Zlatan Sabanovic from the ICMP. (Photo courtesy of the Advocacy Project)
Serbs continue to deny Srebrenica Genocide; Plan to build “Genocide Institute” in Srebrenica which purpose would be to deny Srebrenica Genocide and International Judgments. In 2004, a Serb commission’s final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledged that the mass murder of Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was planned and that it constituted genocide. However, Bosnian Serb government under Milorad Dodik continues to publicly deny genocide.
Serb Republic Prime Minister Milorad Dodik announced that the Serb Republic would initiate the founding of an institute for the research of genocide that would have its headquarters in Srebrenica and he sent an appeal to all sides in Bosnia and Herzegovina for them to do this together.
Dodik, who has publicly denied Srebrenica Genocide numerous times (last time as a reaction to the International Court’s judgment confirming Genocide in Srebrenica), will attempt to deny it one more time with a creation of so called “Genocide Institute” in Srebrenica whose primary goal would be to find evidence to support his Srebrenica Genocide denial conclusions.
“We will invite other institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina to join us in this initiative so that we can found an institute which will, with a sufficient dose of responsibility and objectivity, provide a scientific assessment of all the events that took place earlier, with the aim to prepare the younger generations for everything that took place in this area.” – said Dodik at today’s press conference.
Yet again, we see that Srebrenica Genocide deniers refuse to accept numerous international courts’ judgments confirming Genocide in Srebrenica (Prosecutor vs Krstic at ICTY, Krstic Appeal at ICTY, Prosecutor vs Blagojevic at ICTY, Bosnia vs Serbia at ICJ, etc).
Srebrenica genocide survivors announce mass exodus
Partly as a result of continued Srebrenica Genocide denial by Bosnian Serb Government officials, the Bosniaks who had returned to Srebrenica have announced collective emigration from the town because staying there is no longer possible.
This warning comes from the initiative committee for collective emigration. They set March 14 as their final deadline.
After the International Criminal Tribunal’s ruling, those who had returned do not want to stay in an entity that had committed genocide. They therefore ask that their demands be met, among them, assigning a special status to Srebrenica, which Haris Silajdzic, member of the multi-ethnic Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has also supported.
Serb Republic Prime Minister Milorad Dodik has invited the people to stay. He alleges the Government is doing everything they can to improve the economy and all other life conditions for Srebrenica citizens, including those who had returned. “We will invest significant means into Srebrenica, several tens of millions of marks” – Dodik said.
“Considering that the Tribunal decided that the Serb Republic government had committed genocide in Srebrenica, we must start the process of granting special status to this former UN protected zone as well as to other municipalities in eastern Bosnia where the genocide victims come from, and we must actively persevere and work on the gradual establishment of a constitutional organization which will fully annul the results of the genocide.” – wrote Silajdzic in his statement.Srebrenica Returnees Receive Threats In the proclamation, the Committee states that Srebrenica has been left out of all Serb Republic’s development plans and that this still continues to be the case now that Milorad Dodik holds the office of Prime Minister.
On the wings of his nationalist rhetoric, extremist groups are becoming more prominent, with their criminal symbols and exclamations.
The refugees who returned to Srebrenica are receiving threats over the phone, urging them to move out and announcing a repetition of the events that took place in May 1999, when returnees were attacked and killed.
Srebrenica citizens are thinking of the possible Srebrenica Genocide Memorial centre move. But, Munira Subasic of the “Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves Movement” association says life is hard in Srebrenica, but the dead cannot be touched or transferred.
“The Potocari Memorial centre marks a crime scene, while Srebrenica cannot have the same status as up to now after the Hague verdict, because crime must be punished, and not rewarded.” – Subasic said.
Srebrenica humanitarian money being mismanaged
“Before the war, 37,000 people of all nationalities were living in Srebrenica. Today, there are 3,700 of them and one cannot live there any more.” – said Hakija Meholjic, Social Democratic Party (SDP) Chief Committee member and returnee, who calls Srebrenica “money laundrette”.
“For Srebrenica needs, around 700 million convertible marks entered BH specialised, while only around 50 million cm were implemented in Srebrenica.” – said Meholjic.
“I know 220 million cm came from Saudi Arabia alone, and it was said from the Tuzla Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Canton committee that the authorities on a higher level will decide on the matter because there is no smart enough of a person in Srebrenica to decide on this amount of money.” – claims Meholjic.
He believes that “Srebrenica is the biggest money laundrette in BH” because “the largest part of the money for Srebrenica ended up in Sarajevo or Swiss banks.”
A CASE AGAINST SERBIAN PROPAGANDA ABOUT SARAJEVO MARKALE MASSACRE
(2.) “NO EVIDENCE MUSLIMS SHELLED THEMSELVES” – testifies General Rupert Smith
(3.) UN Report also found Serbs to be responsible for the massacre,
(4.) The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia already convicted Bosnian Serb General, Stanislav Galic, for terrorizing Sarajevo and for responsibility for Markale Massacre, read here.
Today, former UNPROFOR commander Rupert Smith testified at the Hague trial of General Dragomir Milošević.
The former British general took the stand yesterday at the trial of the former Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) Sarajevo-Romanija Corps commander charged with the shelling of Sarajevo and sniper campaign against its civilians from August 1994 to November 1995.
In a brief examination-in-chief the prosecution went through the most relevant paragraphs in General Smith’s comprehensive written statement. It was admitted into evidence together with other documents whose authenticity was confirmed by the witness.
Yesterday Smith confirmed the prosecution’s description of the Bosnian Serb strategy, the nature of command and control in the VRS and the peculiar manner in which General Mladić exercised command. General Smith described it as “centralized”.
The former UNPROFOR commander said that the use of the artillery – to shell Sarajevo – was controlled at the level of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, and consequently of the accused General Milošević who commanded the Corps.
The witness thought the sniper activities were coordinated at the battalion level, but they could have been “controlled from higher levels”. Smith said that the Corps command could have issued orders to limit the sniper activity or to steer them to certain targets.General Rupert Smith confirmed that he had concluded “beyond reasonable doubt” the mortar shell that caused the Markale 2 massacre had come “from the Serb positions around Sarajevo.”
He told the court he reached the conclusion by putting together the results of two investigations, undertaken by the UN military observers and the UNPROFOR Sarajevo Sector experts.
At the end of the examination-in chief, prosecutor Alex Whiting asked Smith whether he had any knowledge of the Bosnian Army “shelling and sniping at its own civilians”. The former UNPROFOR commander said that he had “heard of such allegations”, but that he was never shown “a single piece of evidence to corroborate them”.
General Milošević’s defense counsel took those claims as the starting point for the cross-examination. One of the defense lawyers referred to the book written by General Michael Rose, Smith’s predecessor at the post of UNPROFOR commander, and the testimony of General Nikolai, General Smith’s former chief of staff.
Smith said that he “had not read General Rose’s book.” He went on to testify that General Rose himself “never told him anything about the Bosnian Army shooting at its own people”. As for Nikolai’s statement, Smith said that the Dutch general “merely presented unsubstantiated claims”.