June 25, 2009
[reading time: 3-5 minutes]

Naser Oric, a former bodyguard of late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Sarajevo court for illegal possession of weapons. Who exactly is Naser Oric?

Oric had organised the defence of the eastern enclave of Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 war. He had a warm post-war relationship with both Slobodan Milosevic and his son Marko. Marko supported Naser Oric thoughout his trial. They were in constant telephone communication according to the Serbian state prosecutor Bruno Vukaric. Milosevic’s son Marko even congratulated Oric on his acquittal of all charges in relation to defence of the Srebrenica enclave. (source: Sarajevo X).

At the Hague Trial, Oric and Milosevic had a very friendly relationship. Milosevic once jokingly told Oric that he would be grateful if Oric would write him a report about the war time situation in Srebrenica to which Oric responded by saying that he believed that Milosevic already had all that information, prompting Milosevic to say, “Yes but I would like to get your perspective on it.”

In his recently published book titled “Target” (Meta), radical Serbian ultra-nationalist Vuk Draskovic wrote that he remembers Naser Oric as one of the most polite security officers in Serbia. Oric arrested Draskovic and his wife Danica in Belgrade on March 9, 1991 during violent Belgrade demonstrations. Draskovic still remembers Oric as a nice guy.

Draskovic is, perhaps, the best known for his hatred against Muslims. In 1990, Draskovic held a meeting in Sanjak, – which is a small region in Serbia and Montenegro where Bosniaks once consisted ethnic majority. At that time, Draskovic had issued a threat to non-Serb population: Those who, on Serbian land, lift any flag other than a Serbian one, whether it’s a Muslim, Albanian, or Croat flag, will be left without the flag and without the hand.

Five years later, in July 1995, Serbs committed genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica. Then, as expected, Serbian propaganda focused its failed efforts to deny that genocide ever took place.

In order to justify Srebrenica genocide, Serbian nationalists started propagating grossly inflated claims that over 3,000 Serb civilians were murdered around Srebrenica under Naser Oric’s command – a lie often repeated by the Serbian government propaganda. In fact, only 151 Serb civilians died around Srebrenica from 1992 – 1995 according to the Research and Documentation Center’s data which had been audited and backed-up by the experts from the Hague Tribunal.

Milivoje Ivanisevic, who came up with this “3000 Serbs killed” figure, is a Srebrenica genocide denier himself. Ivanisevic’s claims were discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal, Serbia’s Human Rights Watch, and Bosnia’s State-level Research and Documentation Center.

On the other hand, more than 14,000 Bosniaks died in 1992 as a result of Serb attacks, massacres, and ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Bosnian Muslim population of Podrinje. (see Research and Documentation Center).

As a result of bogus Serbian allegations against Oric, he stood the trial at the Hague Tribunal. In July 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia acquitted him of all charges brought against him.

Oric is in no way a perfect man. After all, everybody associated with late Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic seemed to be rotten in one way or the other. According to BalkanInsight, “A Sarajevo Court based its Wednesday ruling on a large cache of weapons and ammunition, which were found in Oric’s apartments in Sarajevo, Tuzla and his summer cottage in Olovo. At the same time, the court found Oric not guilty of other charges, including extortion and threats.”

So, in conclusion, what can be said about Oric’s latest behavior? He broke the law. Now he has to pay it. Two years in prison. Fair and Square.
  1. Anonymous
    June 26, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Dear Daniel, I want to thank you for this interesting article about Naser Orić, but you forgot to mention that the 151 Serb civilians that died around Srebrenica in 1992-'95 suffered from heart attack. Please can you add this comment to your text? The 28th Division used to sing: "Hej, ko na Božić u Kravicu dodje / Naser Orić, nije Karadjordje / Kad vidjoše sa svih strana puca / stadoše im u grudima srca." As you see from the way how the warriors remember their Christmas visit to Kravica, the Serbs died from heart attack. The 28th Division just came to eat the cakes and return home. Thanks for adding my comment.

  2. Daniel
    June 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Dear Anonymous,

    Serbs around Srebrenica did not die from heart attack, but you also need to understand that between 1991-1995 at least 24,000 Bosniaks died in Podrinje – region encompassing Srebrenica. Additionally, more than 100,000 Bosnian Muslms in Podrinje were ethnically cleansed from their homes in 1992. Not to mention other crimes against humanity.

    In 1992 alone, Serbs killed 14,385 Bosnian Muslims in Podrinje. That was in 1992. And Bosniaks attacked Serb village of Kravica in 1993.

    According to the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo (RDC) – whose work has been validated and certified by experts working for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) – as a result of Serb attacks on Bosnian Muslims in Podrinje, at least 24,117 Bosniaks lost their lives between 1992 and 1995.


  3. Anonymous
    June 27, 2009 at 8:57 am

    One must not forget that the Srebrenica enclave during the Aggression was a lawless, chaotic place. 40,000 people on such a small territory is impossible to control especially with constant artillery and sniper fire from the Bosnian Serb Army, lack of food, water and other supplies. Thugs and warlords like in several other places in Bosnia were the ones who were able to defend and to control the crowds, in return they also controlled the black market via the Bosnian Serbs.
    Today it is hard for those thugs to live a healthy life.Now they have to pay for breaking the law.As Dan says: fair and square.

  4. owen
    June 28, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Emir Suljagic's "Postcards from the Grave" has an interesting section on his encounters with Naser Oric and his assessment that "It is not possible to talk about Srebrenica without mentioning Oric."

    Suljagic describes Oric's charismatic and intimidating presence, his awareness of the power he possessed and the way he exercised it, including his iron control of the black market in Srebrenica.

    He touches on Oric's relationship with the outside world, including the suspicion that Oric's helicopter flight might have been targeted, and the failure of the Second Corps command after Srebrenica fell to respond to Oric's call for diversionary military action to support a breakthrough by the escapees.

    Suljagic's judgment is that "Despite everything one can say about him today, I am certain that he really cared about Srebrenica. As long as he was there he did everything that he thought might be able to save the town".

    The section concludes with Suljagic noting that Oric and his people, joined by several hundred soldiers mainly from eastern Bosnia, bore the brunt of the action to open up a corridor thanks to which several thousand lives were saved.

    When Suljagic says that "Despite a bad personal experience with him, I respected what he did during the war" it's a reminder that it's not always the angels who answer our calls for help in desperate straits.

    Suljagic's book is such a straightforward and convincing account of life in the enclave that his assessment of Oric deserves to be included in the balance.

  5. shaina
    July 24, 2009 at 4:23 am

    Just wanted to reiterate everything Owen mentioned about Emir Suljagic's "Postcards from the grave" it really is an excellent book.
    Recently, Emir appeared on Bosnian TV to discuss the anniversary of Srebrenica, and recent political developments:

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