A number of Srebrenica genocide victims were gassed with chemical weapons in July 1995. A man responsible for requesting chemical strikes against Bosnian Muslim refugees is now on trial at the Hague.
Zdravko Tolimir (aka: “Chemical Tolimir” / “Chemical Zdravko”), a former Bosnian Serb general who ordered chemical attacks against Bosniak convoys of refugees fleeing Zepa and Srebrenica, is reportedly losing his mind in his jail cell.
He has been charged with genocide, extermination, and other serious human rights violations. Currently, he is awaiting his trial at the Hague. According to his latest filing with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Chemical Tolimir is “asking for the guards to stop supervising his detention cell, also objecting to the placing of micro-chips in his body.”
According to BIRN:
“In the introductory part of his handwritten motion, Tolimir said that a detention unit physician had informed him, ‘in the course of an official conversation’, that the Tribunal had decided to check his cell every 30 minutes, thus enabling the guard to visually check his state of health. He alleged that, alternatively, a micro-chip device could be placed in his body and arm. This device would send data on his state of health to the guards 24 hours per day.
‘I explained to the detention unit physician that, being a Christian, I cannot let them place micro chip-devices in my body, as the Holy Scripture, John’s Revelation, chapter 13, verses 16 and 17, and chapter 14, verses 9 and 10, says so. The detention unit physician told me that I was paranoid, as there were no micro-chips at the time when the Holy Scripture was written,’ Tolimir said.
Tolimir said he told the physician that ‘Jesus Christ was not paranoid’, adding that he knew and ‘announced’ that they would ‘eventually start injecting chips in people’s hands and foreheads’.
….’I am asking the Trial Chamber to inform me why it introduced a measure depriving me of sleep on the basis of a GP’s opinion, given the fact that medical specialists indicated in their reports, filed with the Tribunal, that I did not have any serious problems and that I was capable of attending the trial,’ Tolimir said.
The indictee considers that ‘measures of deprivation of sleep and capability to defend himself” were introduced against him, considering the fact that his cell has been under visual surveillance for 18 months already.
‘I ask the Trial Chamber to inform me to what extent it can supervise the detention conditions and to suspend the decision pertaining to sleep deprivation and the injection of micro-chips and placing other devices in my body. In God I trust,’ the indictee wrote at the end of his motion.'”
HISTORY OF THE CONFLICT: Serbs from heavily militarized villages around Srebrenica had terrorized Srebrenica population and constantly attacked neighbouring Bosnian Muslim villages from 1992-1995. In July 1995 the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of Srebrenica and its surrounding area, where they proceeded to perpetrate genocide. Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Bosniak families, forcibly expelled 25,000-30,000 people, summarily executed at least 8,372 boys, men, and elderly, and dumped them into mass graves.
Read more about Zdravo Tolimir’s state of mind
by visiting: www.bim.ba/en/176/10/21210/
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.B-Z is a chemical the army of the former Yugoslavia possessed. (Source: Federation of American Scientists) At that time, the evidence remained “inconclusive” due to inability of Human Rights Watch to properly test the samples.
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)
FORMER SERB GENERAL WHO PROPOSED GASSING SREBRENICA WOMEN & CHILDREN WITH CHEMICAL WEAPONS IS COMPULSIVELY OBSESSED WITH HIS ‘RIGHTS’
Photo of Serb Gen Zdravko Tolimir (aka: Chemical Tolimir) who proposed use of chemical weapons to gas Srebrenica women, children and elderly.
Quck intro: At his initial appearance before an ICTY judge (the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia at the Hague), the accused Zdravko Tolimir refused to state his name and date of birth. During his court appearances, he kept refusing to enter his plea. He repeatedly complained about his “unlawful” arrest, forgeting that he was an international fugitive from justice – charged with genocide over Srebrenica massacre. He kept complaining about his poor health, alleging he had three strokes and lost 26 kilos (later he would contradict himself by telling judge he is in perfect health). He prevented the court deputy’s attempt to put headphones on his ears so he could listen translation of charges against him – eight counts in the indictment charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war. He even pretended he can’t read in “Latin” alphabet, but he was caught in a lie, yet another time. His arrogance, endless complaints, obsession over his ‘rights’, and total ignorance toward brutal suffering of his victims – made him look as disgusting as he can get. At Srebrenica Genocide Blog, we wonder: Has this horrible, inhuman piece of garbage, ever wondered about the rights of his victims whom he proposed to be gassed with chemical weapons?
During 2006 opening statements, the U.N. Prosecutor Peter 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 the Serb General Zdravko Tolimir from Zepa to General Radomir Miletic, acting Chief of General Staff of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) . Tolimir was requesting help to crush some Bosnian military strongholds, expressing his view that “the best way to do it would be to use chemical weapons”. In the same report, Chemical Tolimir went even further, proposing chemical strikes against refugee columns of women, children and elderly leaving Zepa, because that would “force the Muslim fighters to surrender quickly”, in his opinion.
The total Serbian chemical weapons arsenal contained sarin, mustard gas, BZ, CN and CS gases (all in large quantities), together with phosgene, chlorine picric acid, cyanogen chloride, adamsite, lewisite, and other materials, often only in laboratory quantities.
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.
The May 31 2007 arrest of Zdravko Tolimir was hailed by international officials and Bosnia’s Republika Srpska government as a breakthrough in the hunt for wartime fugitives. Tolimir, who was Mladic’s assistant for intelligence and security in the VRS Main Staff, is charged with genocide and other crimes in July 1995 in Srebrenica and Zepa.
The tip was vague but promising. “One of the accused could be attempting to cross the border near the village of Bratunac” was the message relayed to Dragan Milosevic, chief police investigator in Republika Srpska, the Serb-governed sector of Bosnia. “The accused,” Milosevic recalled in an interview, could have referred only to five Bosnian Serb fugitives charged with committing crimes against humanity during their country’s 1992-95 ethnic civil war.
Milosevic and two dozen of his officers proceeded to the small farming village, where they came upon a sickly-looking man in a baseball cap, walking alone on a dirt road. They recognized him as Zdravko Tolimir, a former Bosnian Serb commander who had helped lead the systematic massacre of 8,000 Bosniak prisoners at Srebrenica in July 1995.
“We asked, ‘Are you the one we’re looking for?’ ” Milosevic recalled in Banja Luka, the capital of Republika Srpska. “He didn’t resist. He said, ‘I am the general, but don’t expect me to talk to any of you. You are my enemies, the collaborators.’ He still lives in the war and thinks of us as traitors. It looked like he’d been abandoned there.”
At his initial appearance before an ICTY judge (the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia at the Hague), the accused Zdravko Tolimir refused to state his name and date of birth. During his court appearances, he kept refusing to enter his plea. He repeatedly complained about his “unlawful” arrest, forgeting that he was an international fugitive from justice – charged with genocide over Srebrenica massacre. He kept complaining about his poor health, alleging he had three strokes and lost 26 kilos (later he would contradict himself by telling judge he is in perfect health). He prevented the court deputy’s attempt to put headphones on his ears so he could listen translation of charges against him – eight counts in the indictment charging him with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of laws and customs of war. He even pretended he can’t read in “Latin” alphabet, but he was caught in a lie, yet another time. His arrogance, endless complaints, obsession over his ‘rights’, and total ignorance toward brutal suffering of his victims – made him look as disgusting as he can get. At Srebrenica Genocide Blog, we wonder: Has this horrible, inhuman piece of garbage, ever wondered about the rights of his victims whom he proposed to be gassed with chemical weapons?
During his latest appearance on September 14th 2007 – in a clear provocation to the victims and the Court – Chemical Tolimir prayed briefly for the ‘salvation’ of all those in any way connected with the International Criminal Tribunal at the Hague – and then he continued presenting his demands. Instead of apologizing to the victims and asking their forgiveness, this sick individual has been wasting Court’s time since his arrest. He continued his provocations by pretending he cannot read in “Latin” (which is used in both Bosnian and Croatian languages) and demanding to be given all documents in ‘Serbian and in Cyrillic’. After wasting Court’s time on Tolimir’s endless complaints and demands, pre-trial judge Kimberly Prost caught him lying and concluded the accused was ‘able to understand the documents in Serbian and in the Roman alphabet’.
In an effort to prove the opposite, Tolimir demanded that the documents be disclosed to him in Macedonian or Russian (totally different languages), because the Roman alphabets was ‘too tiring’ for him.
When the judge asked him the usual question about his health, the accused contradicted his earlier statements and now claimed that he was “in perfect health”.
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.
By Stefan Bos
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.
“…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.”
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].
THIRD MOST WANTED GENOCIDE SUSPECT, GENERAL ZDRAVKO TOLIMIR, ARRESTED FEW MILES AWAY FROM SREBRENICA
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.
“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.
GENOCIDE TRIAL WITHOUT RATKO MLADIC AND RADOVAN KARADZIC
“Defenceless men and boys [were] executed by firing squads, buried in mass graves and then dug up and buried again in an attempt to conceal the truth from the world.” – Carla Del Ponte, Aug 21, 2006. – Opening statement in Srebrenica Genocide trial.
The joint trial of the seven, five of whom are accused of genocide, is the biggest at the tribunal, which has combined their cases as it tries to complete its work by 2010. The trial, which started last month, got under way in earnest on Monday.
Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte used her opening statement today to criticize Serbia’s government for failing to arrest and extradite fugitive war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic. She said it is “inexcusable” that the former top commander of Serb forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina has not been detained.
Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic are the most wanted fugitives of Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, indicted by the Hague-based court for the siege of Sarajevo and masterminding the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. Mladic is thought to be hiding in Serbia.
Five of the former officers, Ljubisa Beara, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic, Drago Nikolic and Vujadin Popovic, face various charges, including genocide and extermination. The two other men on trial, Radivoje Miletic and Milan Gvero, are charged with crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of wars including murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation. They have already appeared individually before the court and pleaded not guilty.
Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, told the court that Gen Mladic “should be on trial in this case”.
“Now the name Srebrenica is infamous … invariably associated with the most heinous crimes,” she added.
“It is absolutely scandalous that they have not been caught. Serbia is fully capable to arrest them, but has refused,” she said.
Prosecutor Peter McCloskey said that Mladic and Karadzic plotted to force out the Bosniak population and that the armed forces were instructed accordingly.
“Mladic and Karadzic made what I refer to as the supreme act of arrogance and impunity and set out the plan to deal with Muslims in eastern Bosnia,” he said.
“Men and boys were put in horrendous conditions … they were beaten, starved and killed in two days,” he said referring to July 1995, after the fall of the enclave.
“They were marked for death … There was an organized mass execution going on,” he added.
Last month, the Serbian prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, submitted a plan for Gen Mladic’s arrest which the EU welcomed.
Ms Del Ponte told the court that the seven men in the dock were “among the most responsible” for the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the UN-declared safe haven.
The trial at The Hague – which is expected to last more than a year – started last month with legal arguments and began its main phase today. It is the tribunal’s latest attempt to hold senior officials responsible.
It was “beyond reasonable doubt” that Bosnian Serb forces committed “forcible resettlement of the population, mass murders and genocide,” del Ponte stated.
The accused sat in silence and betrayed no emotion as Ms Del Ponte described the Srebrenica massacre as “the final phase of a comprehensive criminal plan to permanently erase the Muslim population of Srebrenica”.
She told the court: “It is difficult, if not impossible to comprehend the horror inflicted on the inhabitants.
“Defenceless men and boys [were] executed by firing squads, buried in mass graves and then dug up and buried again in an attempt to conceal the truth from the world.”
She said many victims had been bound and blindfolded “to make the murder easier for the executioners”.
Bodies continue to be found in mass graves. Last week, forensic experts said they had exhumed the remains of more than 1,000 victims from a single grave near the village of Kamenica (read more here ).
The skeletons were badly damaged, indicating that the bodies had been dug up from elsewhere and dumped into a second grave as Bosnian Serb forces attempted to cover their tracks.
The Hague-based court has staged only a handful of trials dealing with the Srebrenica atrocities, including the case against the former Serb leader, Slobodan Milosevic, which was aborted after his death in March.
The two men accused of masterminding the killings – General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic – are the tribunal’s most wanted war crimes suspects.
The tribunal has already convicted six men over Srebrenica. Gen Mladic’s deputy, General Radislav Krstic, is serving a 35-year prison term for aiding and abetting genocide and Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic is appealing against an 18-year sentence for complicity in genocide.
The indictments of the seven men were combined last year into a single indictment. They face allegations ranging from genocide to murder and persecution and are being defended by more than a dozen lawyers.
The suspects sat today in the packed courtroom, their faces betraying no emotion as they listened through earphones to a translation of Ms Del Ponte’s opening statement.
At the end of her speech to the court, Ms Del Ponte vowed that the seven suspects would not be the last to face justice for the Srebrenica genocide.
Gen Mladic, Mr Karadzic and others evading capture “will be arrested,” she said.
“They will be brought to The Hague and they will be tried for their crimes. This is our pledge to the international community and the women … who mourn their losses and all victims of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia.”
The prosecution sought to link former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic to the Srebrenica massacre but the case was closed without judgment after his death in March.
The massacre in the Bosniak enclave in eastern Bosnia is Europe’s worst atrocity since the Holocaust.
Brief Update: Serb General, Radislav Krstic, who was originally awarded 46-year prison term for his involvement in Srebrenica genocide, is currently serving appealed sentence of 35-years in prison for aiding and abetting Srebrenica genocide. Serb Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic is currently serving his 18-year sentence for complicity in Srebrenica genocide. Seven other Srebrenica genocide suspects are on trial; an eight suspect remains on the run. Other Srebrenica genocide suspects on the run include Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic and former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Ratko Mladic hid in Belgrade until January this year. 11 persons accused of Srebrenica genocide are currently on trial in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Charges of genocide make the case against the seven former Bosnian Serb officers one of the most important in the tribunal’s history, especially following the death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic four months ago before his own genocide trial could be completed.
Tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte was to give an opening statement Friday before the court adjourns for its summer recess. The case is due to resume in late August.
The trial began in the week that the town in eastern Bosnia — which the U.N. had declared a safe haven — marked the anniversary of that July week in 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces massacred over 8,100 Bosniak men, elderly and children there.It once again highlights the tribunal’s failure to capture and put on trial the two men viewed as chief architects of the slaughter — former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, who have been on the run for more than a decade.
Earlier this week, 505 bodies exhumed from mass graves were reburied in Srebrenica after painstaking efforts to formally identify them. Thousands wait for DNA identification, while others are missing.
Del Ponte attended Tuesday’s commemoration in Srebrenica, partly to focus attention on efforts to have the two chief suspects arrested.“I’m here for the ceremony, for the victims, for the survivors and for the criminals Karadzic and Mladic who are still at large,” she told reporters.
The Hague-based court has staged only a handful of trials dealing with the Srebrenica atrocities, but made the landmark ruling that Bosnian Serb forces waged a campaign of genocide in the eastern Bosnian enclave.
Gen. Radislav Krstic, Mladic’s deputy, is serving a 35-year prison term for aiding and abetting genocide, and Col. Vidoje Blagojevic is appealing his 18-year sentence for complicity in genocide.
The suspects in the case which begun July 14th are: Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Radivoje Miletic, Milan Gvero and Vinko Pandurevic. An eighth suspect, Zdravko Tolimir, remains on the run.
Each faces eight counts, ranging from genocide to murder and persecution. All have pleaded not guilty. They face maximum life sentences if convicted.
Although the defendants have entered their pleas, opening statements in the trial are not due until after the tribunal’s summer recess. The case was adjourned until opening statements on August 21.
Six men have so far been convicted over the Srebrenica massacre, and two of those on genocide charges.“It is good that a few senior people are going to be held hopefully to account, because so few have been,” said Avril McDonald, an international law expert at the Hague-based TMC Asser Institute.
The allegations are hauntingly familiar from television images; Muslim men and boys separated from women and ferried away by bus to locations including schools, farms and river banks around the Srebrenica enclave.
There, they were gunned down and their bodies plowed into mass graves.In one of several massacres listed in the indictment, Bosnian Serb special forces summarily executed more than 1,000 men who had been captured and imprisoned in an agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica.
“The soldiers used automatic weapons, hand grenades, and other weaponry to kill the Bosnian Muslims inside the warehouse,” the indictment alleges. The victims’ bodies were dumped in two mass graves 11 years ago – on July 14 1995.Serbia – Safe Heaven for War Criminals
War crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic hid in modest flats in the Serbian capital until January this year, according to an indictment against 10 people accused of helping him, the daily Politika reported on Wednesday.
Quoting a source who saw the indictment, Politika said it lists the addresses of flats where the former Bosnian Serb Army commander hid from mid-2002 to January 2006.
Mladic is accused of genocide in the Bosnia war. Serbia must deliver him for trial to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague in order to resume suspended talks on closer ties with the European Union.
“It is matter of five or more flats in (the neighbourhood of) New Belgrade, and the persons who helped Mladic paid the rent and supplied him with food,” the daily quoted its source as saying.
The flats Mladic used were “relatively modest”, with rents of up to 400 euros (274 pounds) per month, Politika said. New Belgrade is a densely populated area, built in the 1960s as a dormitory suburb of concrete high-rises.A flurry of reports earlier this year said Mladic had been tracked down and was negotiating surrender, but nothing came of them. The government said Mladic had virtually no helpers left and was now on the run, whereabouts unknown.
The European Union suspended pre-membership talks with Serbia in May because it had failed repeatedly to meet deadlines for the handover of Mladic, who is twice indicted along with his wartime political boss Radovan Karadzic, also at large.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica this week presented a plan to find and deliver Mladic, which EU officials said could get talks restarted if Belgrade’s efforts to implement it were convincing.It includes a shake-up of the security services, passing of new legislation, and an operative part which is secret, officials said.
Mladic and Karadzic are wanted for the Srebrenica massacre of over 8,100 Bosniak men and children and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. (see Sarajevo Photo Tour, Summer 2005). Sarajevo was under siege longer than any other city in modern history — longer even than Stalingrad.
The seven men and three women indicted for helping Mladic were arrested following a military intelligence report which listed some 50 people who allegedly helped hide the fugitive, who was last seen in army facilities in mid-2002.The indictment lists a former officer of the Bosnian Serb army who was arrested in January as the key man who organised Mladic’s hideouts in Belgrade.
Mladic has been on the run since 1995 when the United Nations war crimes court charged him with genocide for his part in the Srebrenica massacre.
Carla Del Ponte, the chief U.N. prosecutor, has repeatedly accused the Serbian authorities of knowing Mladic’s location, claiming they could have arrested him before he disappeared again.
11 on Trial in Bosnia (update)
Presiding Judge Hilmo Vucinic and the two foreign judges comprise the Judicial Council in Srebrenica massacre case in which 11 individuals stand accused of Genocide. Tomislav Dukic, a prosecution witness in the case against 11 persons accused of killing around a thousand Bosniaks in Kravica in July 1995, testified that the principal defendant Milos Stupar was seen in the vicinity of the farmon 13 July 1995, the day of the massacre. Witness Dukic is a former member of the Armored Platoon of the Second Squad of the Sekovici Special Police, which was deployed along the road near Kravica during the attack on Srebrenica in July 1995.
Several prosecution witnesses who testified earlier claimed that Stupar was a commander of the Second Squad of the Sekovici Special Police until mid-July 1995.The indictment, confirmed on 19 December 2005 before the Bosnia-Herzegovina Court, accuses Milos Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Petar Mitrovic, Brana Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragisa Zivanovic and Branislav Medan of “being members and deliberate perpetrators of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcefully evicting women and children from the Srebrenica enclave…and to capture, detain, execute by summary procedure, bury and re-bury thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys.”
They all pleaded not guilty.