Posts Tagged ‘chemical attack’


June 4, 2007 Comments off
Short Intro: With the capture of Zdravko Tolimir – the third most wanted Srebrenica genocide suspect, who requested chemical weapon strikes against the refugees of the U.N. protected enclave of Zepa – we can only hope that his trial will shed more light on previously “inconclusive” findings as to whether or not chemical weapons were used against the people fleeing the U.N. protected enclaves during Srebrenica genocide. According to the eye witness testimonies of survivors these agents had been used against them, and according to the material evidence provided by the International Crimes Tribunal, Gen Zdravko Tolimir did in fact request chemical strikes against refugee columns…

Serb nationalists chant slogans glorifying Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb commander wanted on genocide charges by a U.N. court, during a rally in Belgrade, Serbia. Many Serbs still view genocide fugitives as heroes of mythical proportions.

Key Srebrenica Massacre Suspect Transferred To UN Tribunal (includes Blog Editors’ Analysis about “Chemical Tolimir”)

By Stefan Bos

The relatives of victims of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II have welcomed the arrest of a key suspect in the atrocity. Bosnian Serb General Zdravko Tolimir was detained Thursday and flown to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague on charges related to the killings of up to 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica during the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Under tight security, Bosnian Serb General Zdravko Tolimir left Bosnia Herzegovina for the Netherlands-based UN Tribunal to face charges of genocide. Tolimir, 58, was a senior aide to the Bosnian Serbs’ wartime military commander General Ratko Mladic when the 1995 slaughter took place. The slaughter is marked by the United Nations as one of the worse cases of “ethnic cleansing” during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

Bosnian and Serbian security forces arrested Tolimir late Thursday as he tried to enter Serbia from Bosnia. He was later handed over to U.N, authorities in Banja Luka. Tolimir was considered the third most wanted war crimes suspect in the Balkans after General Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb Army chief, and Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb President.

In comments aired on Reuters television and other networks, relatives of those who died reacted with mixed emotions to the news of his arrest.

“This is good news for the victims, but it should have happened 12 years ago,” said Munira Subasic, a representative of the Association of Women from Srebrenica.

“I hope that [Radovan] Karadzic and [Ratko] Mladic will come out from their hideouts as well to face justice,” added Kada Horic, who survived the Srebrenica massacre.

Olga Kavran, the spokeswoman of the United Nations Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, shares that view. Kavran told reporters she hopes that Serbia will step up efforts to extradite war crimes suspects.

“There are still five remaining [top] fugitives, most of whom we believe to be within reach of Serbia,” she said. “Serbia is in violation of many international obligations by not delivering namely Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic and the other fugitives, and that does not change.”

U.N. officials hope that Tolimir could provide key information about Mladic and Karadzic. Tolimir is thought by experts to have helped commander Mladic evade arrest since his indictment for war crimes in 1995. The European Union has urged Serbia to transfer more war crimes suspects. EU Enlargement Commissioner, Olli Rehn, made clear Friday that the arrest of Tolimir would pave the way to resume stalled talks with the Serbian government about establishing closer ties.

BLOG EDITOR’S ANALYSIS (CHEMICAL WEAPONS): Those who survived Srebrenica genocide and vicious attacks against them “…described mortar shells that produced a strange smoke, one that spread out slowly.” Survivors testified that some people then began to hallucinate and act irrationally, killing themselves or their friends. Human Rights Watch believed the chemical used was B-Z, a non-lethal agent that incapacitates people. It is a chemical the army of the former Yugoslavia possessed.” (Source: Federation of American Scientists) The evidence remained “inconclusive” due to inability of Human Rights Watch to properly test the samples and, in our opinion, due to some “leftist” circles within HRW who seemed to accept eyewitness testimonies with mean-spirited scepticism (Just take a “wording” of this HRW 1998 report, it seemed as it had been written by a leftist-apologist Srebrenica massacre denier who was trying to mask his scepticism with few objective statements even stating that the allegations might be “false.” Imagine questioning testimonies of Holocaust victims in this “sceptic” way and even suggesting they are “false”?) However, HRW quickly corrected itself by stating few objective conclussions worth noting from this “inconclusive” report:

“…it is likely that if a chemical agent was used during the trek from Srebrenica to Tuzla, the people most affected by it are no longer alive to tell their story, having been killed by Serb forces following their incapacitation by BZ or a similar substance. Secondly, Human Rights Watch did not have the resources to do systematic sampling for BZ or a BZ-like compound. Moreover, Human Rights Watch has also not been able to obtain other types of evidence that have been said to exist, including transcripts of Serb radio transmissions from the time of the Srebrenica events…. The United States government apparently took the allegations seriously enough to conduct an investigation, reported to have taken place in late 1996 or early 1997. The results of this investigation have not been made public, but in late 1996 or early 1997 the U.S. intelligence community had information suggesting that chemical weapons may have been used in Srebrenica. The government’s refusal to release the findings may, according to a U.S. official interviewed by Human Rights Watch, be based on a belief that making this information public might hurt the international effort to effect peace in the former Yugoslavia.”

In 1995, a team of the U.S. Defense Department experts interviewed a number of Srebrenica survivors in the summer of 1996, and concluded that their accounts supported allegations of the use of chemical incapacitants. The conclusion was deemed highly significant by the department. This information was sent up the chain of command. In late 1996, the U.S. intelligence community had information that chemical weapons may have been used in Srebrenica. A large investigation, which included physical sampling, was undertaken in late 1996 or early 1997 by the U.S. Government. The results of this investigation are not known to us.

One official told Human Rights Watch in December 1996 that ”we do not see an advantage in declassifying those documents relating to chemical weapons use in Bosnia. We have spoken with people and received assurances that other channels are being pursued that we believe would be more effective and achieve a more favorable outcome than simply publicizing theme.” That is where it’s been left. (Source: The 1998 U.S. Congressional Hearing on Srebrenica Genocide)

(Photo of Peter McCloskey)
In 2006 opening statements, the U.N. Prosecutor McCloskey stated that “criminal orders in war are as a rule issued verbally”, and that a few exceptions existed to the rule. One of the most striking ones is a report sent on 21 July 1995 by General Zdravko Tolimir from Zepa to General Radomir Miletic, acting Chief of General Staff of the VRS. Tolimir is asking for help to crush some BH Army strongholds, expressing his view that “the best way to do it would be to use chemical weapons”. In the same report, Chemical Tolimir goes even further,proposing strikes against refugee columns leaving Zepa, because that would “force the Muslim fighters to surrender quickly”, in his opinion. (Source: SENSE Tribunal, 2006.)

The total Yugoslav chemical weapons arsenal contained sarin, mustard gas, BZ, and the tear gases CN and CS (all in large quantities), together with quite traditional products such as phosgene, chlorine picric acid, cyanogen chloride, adamsite, lewisite, and other materials, often only in laboratory quantities. (Source: Federation of American Scientists)

Key Srebrenica Massacre Suspect Transferred To UN Tribunal – republished from VOA News for Fair Use Only [Educational / Non-Commercial purposes].


June 1, 2007 2 comments


Zdravko Tolimir, a former Bosnian Serb general charged with genocide and crimes against humanity by the U.N.’s the International Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia [ICTY], was arrested on the Bosnia-Serbia border – just a few kilometres from the town of Srebrenica, police said.

The United States Government offered $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Zdravko Tolimir.

Tolimir, who was reported to have organized Gen Ratko Mladic’s escape from justice, was arrested after a major security sweep of the border region with helicopters and anti-terrorist units, according to the Serbian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not entitled to release the information before Tolimir is sent to the U.N. tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. A Bosnian Serb spokeswoman said the arrest came as a result of a joint operation with Serbia.

“The whole action was the result of significant pressure from the outside,” said Natasa Kandic, head of Serbia’s Humanitarian Law Centre. “Nevertheless, it’s a step forward, and we can expect to see the arrests of other fugitives.”

Tolimir was a top aide to the Bosnian Serbs’ wartime military commander, Gen. Ratko Mladic, during the slaughter of about 8,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica in 1995 — the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.

He was considered the third most wanted war crimes suspect still at large in the Balkans after Gen Ratko Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic.

Rasim Ljajic, head of Serbia’s office for cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said the detention showed a new determination on the part of Belgrade.

“This is the first time that not a single fugitive from the ICTY can sleep peacefully, because our civilian and military intelligence will work simultaneously on locating them,” he said.

“Tolimir was considered the mastermind of the actions to shelter Mladic for a long time,” Rasim Ljajic told state television.

The E.U. has linked the resumption of talks on closer ties with Serbia to the arrest of war crimes suspects.

Olga Kavran, the spokeswoman for the chief U.N. war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, said they were informed of Thursday’s arrest by Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik.

“We welcome the arrest of Gen. Tolimir … whom we consider responsible for genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica and the region,” Kavran said. “We hope that the remaining two charged with genocide, Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, will be arrested soon.” Preparations are being made for his transfer to The Hague.

“We understand [he] has some health issues and we will try to assess what these issues are in order to make arrangements for his transportation to The Hague,” a tribunal spokesman told Reuters. Officials said the former general was ill, maybe with cancer.

“Former Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are in Belgrade,” Olga Kavran told the Serbian daily Danas. Both men are indicted on two counts of genocide during the 1992-95 Bosnia war. Former Bosnian Serb political leader Karadzic has long been speculated to be in Russia, Bosnia or his native Montenegro.

Kavran said the tribunal had also passed on information to Serbian authorities regarding Mladic. Police raided a military boarding house in Belgrade on Tuesday night on a Hague tip-off, but did not find the former Bosnian Serb general.

The BBC’s Nicholas Walton in Sarajevo says the arrest of Gen Tolimir is an important breakthrough for those hunting other fugitives wanted in connection with the Bosnian War of the early 1990s.

As a ranking intelligence and security officer during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, Tolimir, 59, was charged in 2005 by the U.N. tribunal with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, as well as murder in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.

The indictment against Tolimir alleges that, “with an intent to destroy a part of the Bosnian Muslim people as a national, ethnical, or religious group, … (he) killed members of the group by planned and opportunistic summary executions.”

The “large scale systematic murder,” the indictment says, began on July 13, 1995, and continued for days until the “entire Muslim population had been either removed or fled” from Srebrenica and the nearby enclave of Zepa by November 1995.

“Over 7,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica had been murdered” by the Bosnian Serb forces, the indictment said.

The charges say that he “committed, planned, instigated, ordered, and otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation, and execution of the crimes” against non-Serbs during the war, including in Srebrenica.

Both Gen Mladic and Mr Karadzic have been indicted for genocide over the killings in Srebrenica and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo, which both claimed close to 20,000 lives. The Siege of Sarajevo alone was the longest siege of any major capital in the history of modern warfare, lasting from April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996.

Gen Tolimir was an intelligence officer and senior aide to Gen Mladic at the time of the massacre at Srebrenica, which was carried out by Bosnian Serb soldiers under Gen Mladic’s command.

Gen Tolimir is accused of helping to plan and carry out the murders, which have since been internationally recognised as genocide.

With his arrest, only five of the 161 people indicted by the UN tribunal remain at large, including Gen Mladic and Mr Karadzic.

Gen Tolimir is thought to have been one of the key figures helping his former commander to evade capture.

If so, he may provide important information about where the most wanted war crimes suspect is now hiding, our correspondent says.

The European Union welcomed Tolimir’s arrest, describing it as “an important step towards bringing to justice all remaining fugitives.”

“Full cooperation with the (U.N. war crimes tribunal) is not only an international obligation, but also a key step to achieve lasting reconciliation in the Western Balkans region,” EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said in a statement.

Carla Del Ponte, chief prosecutor of the U.N. tribunal in The Hague welcomed the arrest of Tolimir and said she hoped the other two top fugitives, Mladic and former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic would be apprehended soon, the Serbian news agency Beta said.

According to the indictment, Tolimir was aware of the program aimed at expelling Muslims from Srebrenica and Zepa, and he willingly participated in the project. On July 9, 1995, when President Radovan Karadžic passed down an order to seize Srebrenica, the order was passed directly through Tolimir.

In Zepa, Tolimir told the Muslims that they must leave otherwise the Serbs of Bosnia would launch a military operation. The Bosnian Muslims refused to leave and, early on the morning of July 14, 1995, the command of the Bosnian Serbs launched an attack against the Zepa enclave.

Tolimir is being charged for acting in conjunction with other Bosnian Serb army and police officers in a joint criminal enterprise. He has been indicted for the forcible removal of women and children from the Srebrenica enclave, and the execution of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys in July 1995.