Reading time: 3-6 minutes – must read!
PHOTO: Serbs around Srebrenica never demilitarized, even though they were required to do so per the 1993 demilitarization agreement.
From the Trial Judgment of Naser Oric:
The Trial Judgment of Naser Oric makes it clear that Serb villages around Srebrenica were heavily militarized bases from which Serbs launched brutal attacks on Bosnian Muslim villages, as well as on the town of Srebrenica itself. As stated in the Judgment, quote:
“Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes. During this period, Srebrenica was subjected to indiscriminate shelling from all directions on a daily basis. Potočari in particular was a daily target for Serb artillery and infantry because it was a sensitive point in the defence line around Srebrenica. Other Bosnian Muslim settlements were routinely attacked as well. All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties.”
“In comparison, it appears that the Bosnian Muslim side did not adequately prepare for the looming armed conflict. There were not even firearms to be found in the BosnianMuslim villages, apart from some privately owned pistols and hunting rifles; a few light weaponswere kept at the Srebrenica police station.”
The Judgment makes it clear that Serb village of Kravica was a military base from which Serbs launched deadly attacks on neighbouring Bosnian Muslim villages and town of Srebrenica itself. The Bosniak counter-attack on Kravica on the 7 January 1993 followed as a result of Serb blockade of humanitarian aid and constant attacks on nearby Bosnian Muslim villages. According to the Judgment:
“The fighting intensified in December 1992 and the beginning of January 1993, when Bosnian Muslims were attacked by Bosnian Serbs primarily from the direction of Kravica and Ježestica. In the early morning of the 7 January 1993, Orthodox Christmas day, Bosnian Muslims attacked Kravica, Ježestica and Šiljkovići. Convincing evidence suggests that the village guards were backed by the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army], and following the fighting in the summer of 1992, they received military support, including weapons and training. A considerable amount of weapons and ammunition was kept in Kravica and Šiljkovići. Moreover, there is evidence that besides the village guards, there was Serb and Bosnian Serb military presence in the area. The Trial Chamber is not satisfied that it can be attributed solely to Bosnian Muslims. The evidence is unclear as to the number of houses destroyed by Bosnian Muslims as opposed to those destroyed by Bosnian Serbs. In light of this uncertainty, the Trial Chamber concludes that the destruction of property in Kravica between 7 and 8 December 1992 does not fulfil the elements of wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages not justified by military necessity.”
“Between June 1992 and March 1993, Bosnian Muslims raided a number of vllages and hamlets inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, or from which Bosnian Muslims had formerly been expelled. One of the purposes of these actions was to acquire food, weapons, ammunition and military equipment. Bosnian Serb forces controlling the access roads were not allowing international humanitarian aid – most importantly, food and medicine – to reach Srebrenica. As a consequence, there was a constant and serious shortage of food causing starvation to peak in the winter of 1992/1993. Numerous people died or were in an extremely emaciated state due to malnutrition.”
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.
“Any criminal responsibility of Naser Orić was offset by the real and present necessity to acquire food for the survival of the population of Srebrenica. Having recognised that the defence of necessity was an established principle in customary international law in 1992 and 1993, the Trial Chamber considered the extraordinary humanitarian circumstances in Srebrenica at the time. It thus found that there was abundant evidence that Srebrenica was isolated, that the starving population was drastically increasing with the influx of refugees and that there had been repeated calls for help.”
Found: NOT GUILTY
- Born: 3 March 1967, in the village of Potočari, municipality of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Indictment: Initial: confirmed on 28 March 2003, made public on 11 April 2003; second amended: 4 October 2004; third amended: 30 June 2005 in accordance with Rule 98bis decision of 8 June 2005
- Arrested: 10 April 2003, by the multinational Stabilisation Force (SFOR)
- Transferred to ICTY: 11 April 2003
- Initial and further appearances: 15 April 2003, pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment
- Trial Chamber Judgment: 30 June 2006, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment; immediate release ordered on 30 June 2006 (he was entitled to credit for time served in detention since 10 April 2003 and was released on 1 July 2006)
- Appeals Chamber Judgement: 3 July 2008, found not guilty
Trial days : 196
Witnesses called by Prosecution: 52
Prosecution exhibits: 625
Witnesses called by Defence: 30
Defence exhibits: 1024
Witnesses called by Trial Chamber: 1
Chamber exhibits: 7
Commenced: 6 October 2004
Closing arguments: 3-10 April 2006
Trial Chamber II: Judge Carmel Agius (presiding), Judge Hans Henrik Brydensholt and Judge Albin Eser
Counsel for the Prosecution: Jan Wubben, Patricia Sellers Viseur, Gramsci di Fazio, Joanne Richardson, Jose Doria
Counsel for the Defence: Vasvija Vidović, John Jones
Judgement: 30 June 2006
Appeals Chamber: Judge Wolfgang Schomburg (presiding), Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen, Judge Liu Daqun, Judge Andrésia Vaz , Judge Theodor Meron
Counsel for the Prosecution: Michele Jarvis, Christine Dahl, Paul Rogers, Laurel Baig, Nicole Lewis, Najwa Nabti
Counsel for the Defence: Vasvija Vidović, John Jones
Judgement: 3 July 2008
INDICTMENT AND CHARGES
The initial indictment against Naser Orić was confirmed on 28 March 2003 and made public on 11 April 2003. Pursuant to the Trial Chamber Decision of 3 July 2003, the Prosecution filed an amended indictment on 16 July 2003. On 4 October 2004, the Trial Chamber ordered that the second amended indictment filed by the Prosecution on 1 October 2004 was the operative indictment against the accused. Following the decision by the Trial Chamber of 8 June 2005, in accordance with Rule 98bis, the Prosecution filed the third amended indictment on 30 June 2005. This was the operative indictment prior to the presentation of the defence case.
According to the indictment, in May 1992 Naser Orić was appointed commander of the Srebrenica Municipal Territorial Defence (TO) Staff, which was later re-named the Srebrenica Armed forces. His command was further extended when he was appointed the commander of the Joint Armed Forces of the sub-region Srebrenica in early November 1992 encompassing the geographical regions of several municipalities, namely: Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Zvornik in eastern Bosnia.
The indictment generally alleged that, at all times relevant to the charges of the indictment, by virtue of his position and authority as commander, Naser Orić commanded all units that were operating within his area of responsibility. This included all units in combat activities in the municipalities of Srebrenica and Bratunac in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular the combat activities in Ratkovići on 21 and 27 June 1992, Ježestica on 8 August 1992, Fakovići on 5 October 1992, Bjelovac between 14 and 19 December 1992 and Kravica on 7 and 8 January 1993 and all units including the military police involved in the detention and custody of Serb individuals in Srebrenica.
According to the indictment, Naser Orić demonstrated both de jure and de facto command and control in military matters and exercised effective control over his subordinates.
Between 24 September 1992 and 20 March 1993, members of the military police under the command and control of Naser Orić, allegedly detained several Serb individuals in the Srebrenica police station and in the building behind the Srebrenica Municipal building. It was alleged that these detainees were subjected to physical abuse, serious suffering and injury to body and health. In some instances, prisoners were beaten to death.
Naser Orić, from about September 1992 to August 1995, knew or had reason to know that his subordinates were about to plan, prepare or execute the imprisonment, killing and/or cruel treatment of Serbs detained at the Srebrenica police station and the building behind the Srebrenica Municipal building, or had done so, and he failed to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent such acts or to punish the perpetrators thereof.
The indictment further alleged that during the period May 1992 to February 1993, Bosniak armed units engaged in various military operations against the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) in eastern Bosnia. In the course of such operations, Bosniak armed units in the municipalities of Bratunac, Srebrenica and Skelani, burnt and otherwise destroyed a minimum of 50 predominantly Serb villages and hamlets. As a result, thousands of Serb individuals fled the area.
Naser Orić was charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility (Article 7(1) of the Statute) and on the basis of superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) of the Statute) with:
• Wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, not justified by military necessity (violations of the laws or customs of war, Article 3).
He was charged on the basis of superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) of the Statute) with:
• Murder and cruel treatment (violations of the laws or customs of war, Article 3).
The trial commenced on 6 October 2004 before Trial Chamber II, Judge Carmel Agius (presiding), Judge Hans Henrik Brydensholt and Judge Albin Eser. The Prosecution completed its case-in-chief on 31 May 2005. On 8 June 2005, the Trial Chamber issued an oral decision pursuant to Rule 98bis. The defence began presenting its case on 4 July 2005 and concluded on 1 February 2006. The closing arguments of the Prosecution were presented on 3 and 4 April and of the Defence 5 ,6 , 7 and 10 April 2006.
RULE 98bis DECISION
After the conclusion of the presentation of Prosecution evidence, the Trial Chamber can rule of whether there is a case to answer. If the Chamber believes that the Prosecution has not presented sufficient evidence to prove certain charge(s), it can dismiss those charges before the beginning of the presentation of defence evidence.
Rule 98bis was amended on 8 December 2004 and the decision in the Orić case was the first application of the amended rule. The new procedure is entirely oral, and it is no longer party driven. Thus, it is much quicker. The Trial Chamber found that the standard of review remains the same, namely whether the Prosecution’s evidence, if believed, is sufficient for any reasonable trier of fact to find that guilt of the accused has been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
In its Rule 98bis ruling, the Trial Chamber found that there was evidence which, if believed, would be capable of proving that the general legal requirements for the application of Article 3 are met, namely that:
• an armed conflict existed between 10 June 1992 and 20 March 1993 on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina;
• there was a nexus between the acts of Naser Orić and such armed conflict;
• the crimes of murder, cruel treatment, wanton destruction and plunder constitute violations of rules of international customary law which protect important values and entail individual criminal responsibility; and that
• regarding the crimes of murder and cruel treatment, the persons alleged to have been killed or subjected to cruel treatment were persons taking no active part in the hostilities at the relevant time.
The Trial Chamber elaborated on the applicable law in relation to both the underlying crimes and criminal responsibility.
Having considered all the evidence presented by the Prosecutor, the Trial Chamber entered a judgement of acquittal of Naser Orić of the charges against him in Counts 4 and 6 of the second amended indictment, namely the charge of plunder of public or private property, a violation of the laws and customs of war. More specifically, the indictment charged Naser Orić only with the plunder of “cattle, furniture and television sets”. The Trial Chamber found that there was very little evidence pertaining to the plunder of furniture and TV sets and thus that the evidence adduced did not fulfil the jurisdictional requirement of Article 1 of the Statute, namely the requirement that the violations be serious.
While the Trial Chamber held that there was ample evidence which, if believed, could lead to the conclusion that several hundred heads of cattle were appropriated during or immediately after the attacks, it found that any criminal responsibility of Naser Orić was offset by the real and present necessity to acquire food for the survival of the population of Srebrenica. Having recognised that the defence of necessity was an established principle in customary international law in 1992 and 1993, the Trial Chamber considered the extraordinary humanitarian circumstances in Srebrenica at the time. It thus found that there was abundant evidence that Srebrenica was isolated, that the starving population was drastically increasing with the influx of refugees and that there had been repeated calls for help.
The Trial Chamber noted that there was no evidence that the taking away of cattle was disproportionate or that the direct perpetrators of the appropriation of cattle had brought about the humanitarian situation themselves, but rather that these acts had become indispensable for the survival of the population of Srebrenica. The Trial Chamber thus held that the Prosecution failed to adduce evidence capable of supporting a conviction for the crime of plunder of public or private property and consequently acquitted Naser Orić of Counts 4 and 6 of the second amended indictment.
The Trial Chamber ordered the continuation of the case against Naser Orić in relation to the other counts in the indictment, namely Counts 1, 2, 3 and 5.
However, with regard to the alleged murder of Bogdan Živanović in Count 1 and the alleged cruel treatment of Miloje Obradović in Count 2, the Trial Chamber found that there was no evidence capable of supporting a conviction and that Naser Orić consequently did not need to address these alleged incidents. Similarly, with regard to the alleged wanton destruction in the villages of Radijevići and Božići set out in Counts 3 and 5, the Trial Chamber found that there was no evidence capable of supporting a conviction and that Naser Orić therefore does not need to address those alleged incidents during the Defence case.
For practical purposes, the Trial Chamber asked the Prosecution to present an amended version of the indictment to reflect the above mentioned findings. The third amended indictment was filed on 30 June 2005.
TRIAL CHAMBER JUDGEMENT
This judgement deals with crimes of murder and cruel treatment of prisoners and of wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages alleged to have happened in Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993 for which the Accused was indicted on 30 June 2005.
After Srebrenica was re-captured by Bosnian Muslims in May 1992, they felt a pressing need to organise an effective defence. On 20 May 1992, an informal group of Bosnian Muslim men, who had already set up individual fighting groups in the area, met in the nearby hamlet of Bajramovici to establish the “Srebrenica TO Staff”. The Accused, who was present during this meeting, was elected as Commander. His appointment was subsequently confirmed by Sefer Halilović, Chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and by Alija Izetbegović, the President of Bosnia and Herzegovina. On 3 September 1992, the Srebrenica TO Staff was re-named the Srebrenica Armed Forces Staff.
Between 24 September and 16 October 1992, and again from 27 December 1992 to 20 March 1993, a number of Serbs were captured by Bosnian Muslim fighters and detained at the Srebrenica Police Station and, during the second time-period, also at a building behind the Srebrenica municipal building (“Building”). While they were generally exposed to the same appalling living conditions as the local population, their condition was significantly exacerbated by the maltreatment.
From the very moment it detained prisoners, the Srebrenica military police assumed all duties and responsibilities (under international law) relating to the treatment of prisoners in time of conflict. Evidence showed that Mirzet Halilović, the commander of the military police until 22 November 1992, did not exercise adequate supervision of the detention facility or the activities of the guards while carrying out their duties. To the contrary, Mirzet Halilović even contributed to the cruel treatment of the Serb detainees. The replacement of Mirzet Halilović with Atif Krdzić on 22 November 1992 did not benefit the detainees. Not one person or document refers to his presence in either of the two buildings where prisoners were kept. In addition, during his term as commander, more murders and cruel treatment took place. The Trial Chamber found that the Srebrenica military police, through its commanders Mirzet Halilović and Atif Krdzić, was responsible for the injuries inflicted on the victims.
The Trial Chamber also found that Naser Orić exercised effective control over the military police but only as of 22 November 1992. Prior to this date, it is not clear whether the Srebrenica Armed Forces Staff and Naser Orić as Commander exercised effective control over the military police. It is clear, however, that there was an attempt to restructure and improve its performance in October and November 1992, such as with the replacement of Mirzet Halilović by Atif Krdzić. The new military police commander reported to Osman Osmanović, the Chief of Staff of the Srebrenica Armed Forces who reported to Naser Orić.
The Trial Chamber found insufficient reliable evidence that Naser Orić ever visited either of the two detention facilities between December 1992 and March 1993, when the second group of Serb prisoners was held there. Although Naser Orić was aware that Serbs were detained in Srebrenica, there is no indication that anyone kept him informed about their condition.
Nonetheless, since Naser Orić was aware that incidents of murder and cruel treatment had previously occurred, the Trial Chamber found that Naser Orić was put on notice that the security and the well-being of all Serbs detained from that time forward in Srebrenica was at risk, and that this issue needed to be adequately addressed and monitored. Naser Orić also knew that the severe malnutrition and the psychological effects of being under siege had severely affected the judgement of people in Srebrenica, several of whom behaved erratically. The Trial Chamber found that Naser Orić had reason to know about acts of murder and cruel treatment committed at the Srebrenica Police Station and the Building between 27 December 1992 and 20 March 1993.
However, the security and well-being of Serb prisoners disappear from Naser Orić’s agenda after an investigation into the alleged killing of a prisoner by Mirzet Halilović and his eventual replacement with Atif Krdzić. In his 2001 interview with the Office of the Prosecutor, Naser Orić is reported as stating that because of the deteriorating military situation, the detention of prisoners was not on his mind, as there were others responsible for it.
The Trial Chamber holds that, as a general rule, the treatment of prisoners in armed conflict, including their physical and mental condition, cannot be deemed less important than military considerations. however important they may be. As a general rule the person entrusted with the responsibility over prisoners is in a position to fulfil this obligation. It does not, and cannot, apply when there is the impossibility to act, or when it would be utterly unreasonable to expect one to act, as in the case of a life-threatening situation. In this case, the Trial Chamber found that Naser Orić, as a commander, could discharge such responsibilities by delegating part of them to a subordinate and enquiring from time to time, and in the absence of reports, at least require them in whatever format.
The Trial Chamber found it unacceptable that commanders, like Naser Orić, could be free of his obligation to protect prisoners from murder and cruel treatment simply by assigning a subordinate to the job and not enquiring further about their status. Naser Orić never enquired about the fate of the Serb prisoners kept at the two detention facilities in Srebrenica from the day Atif Krdzić was appointed commander of the Srebrenica military police in lieu of Mirzet Halilović. In addition, he expressed and explained his lack of further involvement on the basis of his military commitments elsewhere and that there were others in charge of prisoners.
The Trial Chamber rejected the Defence submission that Naser Orić had inadequate means at the time to prevent the crimes committed against the prisoners. The replacement of Mirzet Halilović and the investigation of his alleged killing of a Serb prisoner show that this could be achieved, even in the absence of sophisticated structures and well-trained personnel.
The Trial Chamber therefore found Naser Orić guilty of not taking the necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the crimes at the Srebrenica Police Station and the Building between December 1992 and March 1993.
However, with respect to the duty to punish, the Trial Chamber came to a different conclusion, namely that Naser Orić could not be held responsible for having failed to punish the crimes committed. The Judgement explains why the Trial Chamber comes to the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence of effective control over the military police prior to 22 November 1992, when Naser Orić had actual knowledge of murder and cruel treatment. Thereafter, when Naser Orić exercised effective control, the Trial Chamber only found that he had reason to know of the crimes. Naser Orić could not be found guilty of failing to punish his subordinates for crimes, since there was not enough evidence to prove that he knew or could have known that the crimes had taken place and would therefore have been in a position to punish.
Weighing Naser Orić’s individual criminal responsibility in respect of the attack on Jezestica on 7 and 8 January 1993, the Trial Chamber found that the elements of the crime of wanton destruction are not fulfilled with regard to the other attacks for which such responsibility has been charged.
The Trial Chamber was convinced that Naser Orić was generally aware that Bosnian Serb property was destroyed by Bosnian Muslims, primarily civilians, who followed the fighters during attacks. However, the Prosecution failed to prove that he instigated wanton destruction. On the contrary, evidence indicated that Naser Orić opposed this conduct.
With respect to aiding and abetting, the Trial Chamber found that Naser Orić, as a leader of a group of fighters, had the responsibility to prevent reckless destruction by his subordinates. This duty extended to preventing wanton destruction by other fighters and civilians if Naser Orić knew that such reckless destruction was being or was about to be committed in the course of attacks in which his subordinates participated. As a minimum, he had a duty to prevent civilians from being present during such attacks. However, the Trial Chamber did not establish that Naser Orić could have prevented unjustified destruction by civilians that were present before, during and after attacks in massive numbers and who were beyond any control. With respect to fighters, the Trial Chamber was not convinced that in the particular circumstances of the attack on Jezestica on 7 and 8 January 1993, Naser Orić could have prevented fighters from committing destruction, or aiding and abetting civilians to commit such destruction. There was no evidence that his fighting group had any involvement in the wanton destruction that occurred during the attack. There was also insufficient evidence that Naser Orić had control over, or even communication with other fighting groups during the attack. In addition, although Naser Orić participated in the attack, there was no evidence that his presence was that of an ‘approving spectator’ required to hold him individually criminally responsible in light of the above, the Trial Chamber concluded that the Prosecution failed to establish that Naser Orić in any way instigated or aided and abetted the commission of wanton destruction not justified by military necessity in Jezestica on 7 and 8 January 1993.
The Trial Chamber examined Naser Orić’s criminal responsibility for his subordinates only in respect of the attacks on Ratkovici and Gornji Ratkovici (21 June 1992), on Braðevina (27 June 1992) and Jezestica (8 August 1992 and 7 and 8 January 1993). Regarding all four attacks, the Trial Chamber heard evidence that Bosnian Muslim fighters and civilians committed acts of wanton destruction, but there was almost no evidence that would further identify those perpetrators. However, such identification is not required by law, provided that it can be established that those responsible were under the control of the superior.
With respect to the question of the existence or otherwise of effective control by Naser Orić over the perpetrators it has already been explained that effective control can be based on legal, as well as on a factual position of authority.
However, while the Trial Chamber found that Naser Orić exercised effective control over his own fighting group from Potočari, a village located aproximately four kilometres northeast of Srebrenica, the Trial Chamber did not find enough evidence that Naser Orić in fact exercised effective control over the various groups of fighters who participated in these attacks. There was no organised army with a fully functioning command structure, but one of local groups remaining relatively independent and voluntary and a mass of uncontrollable civilians that were present at every attack. Therefore, the Trial Chamber came to the conclusion that regarding all four attacks under consideration, Naser Orić could not be held criminally responsible for his subordinates’ acts of wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, which were not justified by military necessity.
On 30 May 2006, the Trial Chamber rendered its judgement: Naser Orić, on the basis of superior criminal responsibility (Article 7(3) of the Statute), was found guilty of:
• Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of murder between 27 December 1992 to 20 March 1993 (violation of the laws or customs of war, Article 3)
• Failure to discharge his duty as a superior to take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the occurrence of cruel treatment between 27 December 1992 and 20 March 1993 (violation of the laws or customs of war, Article 3)
He was acquitted of all the other counts.
Sentence: two years’ imprisonment
Naser Orić was entitled to credit for time spent in detention, namely three years, two months and 21 days. The Trial Chamber therefore ordered his immediate release.
APPEALS CHAMBER JUDGEMENT
On 31 July 2006, the defence filed a notice of appeal against the Trial Judgement. The Prosecution also filed its notice of appeal on 31 July 2006.
On 16 October 2006, the defence filed its appeal brief. On 18 October 2006, the Prosecution filed the latest version of its appeal brief.
The appeals hearing took place on 1 and 2 April 2008.
The Appeals Chamber granted Naser Orić’s first and fifth grounds of appeal as he alleged therein that the Trial Chamber failed to make findings on the criminal responsibility of his only identified subordinate, Atif Krdžić. Additionally, the Trial Chamber failed to determine whether Naser Orić knew or had reason to know that Atif Krdžić was about to or had committed crimes. In the absence of these findings, Naser Orić’s convictions under Article 7(3) of the Statute could not stand. These errors therefore invalidated the Trial Chamber’s decision to convict Naser Orić for his failure to prevent his subordinate’s alleged criminal conduct in relation to the crimes committed against Serb detainees between December 1992 and March 1993.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecution, in its first ground of appeal, failed to demonstrate that the Trial Chamber misapplied the burden of proof or erred in failing to consider that Naser Orić’s de jure command over the Military Police between 24 September and 16 October 1992 created a presumption that he exercised effective control over that unit. For reasons explained in its Judgement, the Appeals Chamber further found that the Prosecution failed to demonstrate that the Trial Chamber erred in fact when it found that Naser Orić did not have effective control over the Military Police between 24 September and 16 October 1992.
Under the last part of its first ground of appeal, the Prosecution alleged that, had the Trial Chamber applied the “had reason to know” standard correctly, it would have concluded that Naser Orić had reason to know that crimes of murder and cruel treatment had occurred between 27 December 1992 and 20 March 1993, and convicted him for failing to punish. The Appeals Chamber noted that, whereas responsibility under Article 7(3) of the Statute requires proof of the superior’s knowledge or reason to know of his subordinate’s criminal conduct, the Prosecution contended that Naser Orić had reason to know that the crimes of murder and cruel treatment themselves had occurred. The Prosecution submitted that, in the present case, knowledge or reason to know of the crimes and knowledge or reason to know of the subordinate’s criminal conduct were “one and the same”. The Appeals Chamber considered that the Prosecution fails to substantiate this assertion and, consequently, needed not consider any further the Prosecution’s present sub-ground of appeal.
For the foregoing reasons, the Prosecution’s first ground of appeal was dismissed in its entirety. The Appeals Chambers declined to consider the Prosecution’s fifth ground of appeal and considered that the Prosecution’s remaining grounds of appeal were rendered moot as a result of the Appeals Chamber’s discussion and conclusion on Naser Orić’s appeal.
In light of the foregoing, the Appeals Chamber found that the appropriate course of action can only be a reversal of Naser Orić’s convictions under Article 7(3) of the Statute.
The Appeals Chamber underscored that, like the Trial Chamber, it had no doubt that grave crimes were committed against Serbs detained in Srebrenica at the Srebrenica Police Station and the Building between September 1992 and March 1993. Also, the Defence did not challenge that crimes were committed against Serb detainees.
However, proof that crimes had occurred was not sufficient to sustain a conviction of an individual for these crimes.
On 3 July 2008, the Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber judgement and found Naser Orić not guilty.
Judge Mohamed Shahabuddeen appended a declaration. Judge Liu Daqun appended a partially dissenting opinion and declaration. Judge Wolfgang Schomburg appended a separate and partially dissenting opinion.
Link to the original document prepared by the ICTY Communications Service (in PDF). All ICTY key documents are available on: www.un.org/icty International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW The Hague, the Netherlands.
PHOTO: You’re looking at a cold-blooded killer. This coward is ‘brave’ enough to brag about his killings, but he is not a man enough to show his face.
‘For every dead Bosniak in Srebrenica we got five marks… we were paid better for massacres in Zaire, Kosovo and Macedonia…’ I don’t know the exact number. [Drazen] Erdemovic says [he killed] 1,200 people, but do you know how much work that means? That would take at least two days. If they managed to kill that many in four hours, congratulations!
When did you join the 10th commando detachment?
When it was established, on 1 October 1994.
Who established the unit and for what purpose?
The VRS security service established it, and we were under the direct command of the general staff, i.e. of General Ratko Mladic. It was a commando unit whose task was to penetrate deep into enemy territory (100 or 200 kilometres) and lay explosive charges under tanks or other military materiel.
What commando operations did you carry out during the war?
At the outset our work consisted of actions in what is now the Federation [of Bosnia-Herzegovina] and in Croatia. In Croatia, for instance, we went into the area round Korenica, Jasenovac and Novska, where we blew up railway lines, and once a train carrying soldier and arms. In the Federation it was mainly artillery targets and bridges, the destruction of anything that an army could use. We blew up bridges on the Krivaja and an aqueduct at Stupari near Tuzla, and we destroyed multiple-rocket launchers and mortars in the Tuzla region…
Did you take part in actual fighting, and were you paid more than the members of other units?
We never took part in actual fighting, only in commando raids. Every raid had its price, depending on the difficulty of the task. I always chose the most difficult, because I wanted to earn as much money as possible. For example, for blowing up a multiple-rocket launcher we would get 4,800 marks. The raids usually involved from two to four individuals, and nobody apart from them and their superior knew what their task was. We were well paid. If we were in action it worked out at 4,000 marks a month, otherwise half as much.
Who paid you?
The unit’s sponsors, private individuals who paid up like this in order to avoid having to go to war themselves. We used to get the money for the raids along with our pay at our base in the Stjepa Stjepanovic barracks at Bijeljina.
Is it true that there was a large number of non-Serbs in the unit?
First, on 12 November 1993, the anti-terrorist unit for special assignments was formed, in which there were only Croats and Bosniaks – there wasn’t a single Serb. Then on 1 October 1994 this became the 10th commando detachment. At that time just the commander was a Serb, it was only in 1995 that other Serbs began to join the unit, which eventually numbered 33 men. Of that number, only 8 were commandos first class, who had the highest pay, while the rest were auxiliaries – ordinary soldiers and drivers.
Who was the commander of the unit?
The first commander, I don’t want to give his name, was a high-ranking JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army] officer, a naval commando, who trained us, but after three months he left because we thought he wasn’t supporting us. We had carried out a raid to destroy a bridge on the Buk, you see, that was 40 km from Vozuca towards Zenica, and we were supposed to get 20,000 dollars for the raid. The money arrived in Doboj, in the hands of the military security officer Mirko Slavuljica. But of that money we got only 100 dollars apiece, the rest was probably shared out by Slavuljica and the other top brass. We made a big fuss and the commander had to go. Then Milorad Pelemis arrived as commander, and later on he brought Serbs into the unit. A competition was organized in all VRS units, and the best came to us on trial. Out of a hundred, perhaps one got through and that only because he knew how to work with explosives and timers.
Erdemovic is a liar! Pelemis behaved properly. We didn’t know much about him. His family comes from Sekovici, he’d been commander of an assault detachment, but he hadn’t been a commando and he knew nothing about laying explosive charges. He’d been a VJ [Yugoslav Army] officer in Belgrade, a member of the elite Cobra special unit, from whom he’d got an apartment in Belgrade in which he still lives.
I arrested Erdemovic in Uzica, where he’d taken refuge with his wife and child eight days after the fall of Srebrenica. But Misa Pelemis ordered us to release him. Four days later Erdemovic met with journalists and told them all about Srebrenica, after which the Serbian security police arrested him and handed him over to The Hague. I should have killed him at the time. Nobody could have ordered Erdemovic to kill, he killed just like everyone else. But it turned out that he wasn’t psychologically up to it.
Erdemovic says that Pelemis wanted to throw him out of his apartment. But that was only to be expected, we lived in Muslim houses in Bijeljina and anyone who didn’t want to go into action could be thrown out so that someone else could take his place. And in a raid Erdemovic had arrested some neighbour of his and let him go, which he shouldn’t have done, so they soon twigged what kind of person he was.On whose authority did you go into action, who gave you the orders?
The orders came from the VRS general staff, we received our orders directly from Mladic via his adjutant Major Dragan Pecanac. [Major Pecanac is currently hiding in Russia, and his friends claim that he is engaged on ‘military business’ there too. – Slobodna Bosna] Moreover, when he wanted to give us some task, Mladic used to summon us to see him at Crna Rijeka, but he couldn’t stand us for long because we used to behave in a rowdy manner, while he always used to insist on iron discipline, as if you were in the JNA. Sometimes we’d be given jobs via the head of counter-intelligence Colonel Petar Salapura or the number one in the 410th intelligence centre Ceda Knezevic. This centre was initially housed with us at Bijeljina, but later on they moved them to the Vrbas barracks at Banja Luka. They provided us with information, and we agreed on actions with them and on how much money we’d get. Were you really not scared of Mladic? He waged war mercilessly against Bosniaks and Croats, how could he trust you Croats and Bosniaks in the unit?
We knew that he respected what we did. He valued us more than the Serbs in the unit.
You say that you never engaged in fighting operations. Yet you were involved on the occasion of the capture of Srebrenica.
That was the only time they involved us, and it was on 16 July when the shootings at Pilica were over. I wasn’t at Srebrenica that day, because our detachment had been deployed in two directions. I went with one group to Modrica, it was our job to mine the dam on the lake, and Erdemovic with seven other commandos went to Srebrenica. We didn’t carry out our task, because it was impossible to get to the dam, we’d have had to lower ourselves 70 metres below the dam to carry it out, so we gave it up. And if we’d succeeded, the water would have destroyed Gradacac and the surrounding places. When we came back to Bijeljina and met the other group, they told me what they’d done at Srebrenica. They came with money and gold that they’d collected from the people they’d shot, it was worth about 4,000 marks, mainly rings and chains. We went for a drink together.
Erdemovic testified that the leader of his group Brano Gojkovic ordered the execution of the prisoners. Who gave the order to Gojkovic?
The commander of the detachment Pelemis wasn’t at Srebrenica at the time and he named Gojkovic, a crude fellow from Vlasenica, to lead the unit. Pelemis’ dispatch rider and favourite Mladen Filipovic, a Croat, had been wounded at Srebrenica and Miso hurried off with him to the hospital at Milici. He drove fast and they had a road accident and both ended up in the hospital. The remainder of the unit went off to work, to take the people away and shoot them. The order for something like that must have come from the high command. So far as I know and from what I’ve been told, Major Pecanac told them that for every prisoner killed they’d get 4 marks, and for a ‘dunk shot’ [to the nape of the neck] 5 marks, and half a kilo of gold when the job was finished. They took people away, shot them, and Stanko Savanovic ‘checked’ each one. But they were cheated, Pecanac never paid them the money or the gold. Not one of those people who were at Srebrenica has a house today, they all live in rented accommodation and are dirt poor.
I don’t know the exact number. Erdemovic says 1,200 people, but do you know how much work that means? That would take at least two days. If they managed to kill that many in four hours, congratulations! Not just our lads were there, but ones from other Drina Corps units. Apart from Erdemovic, another person who felt bad about Srebrenica was Franc Kos, he can’t get over it even today, but the others weren’t affected.
Did your unit have other ‘jobs’ at Srebrenica?
Not then, they returned to Bijeljina after four hours, as soon as the job was done. I’d been at Srebrenica five months before it fell. We got in through the Sase mine and came out in Srebrenica near the Dutch base. We had only 5 minutes in which to fire our rocket-propelled grenades and make our way back through the mine. Our task was to cause a rift between Naser Oric and his deputy, to make it seem as if they’d been fighting one another, because they were already in conflict. We fired at office buildings, houses and the UNPROFOR. In the end people concluded that special forces from Serbia had done it.
Did the Serbian special forces do anything together with you?
We never worked with any other unit, we always acted alone, in little groups. We had expensive, powerful equipment, such as crossbows with night lasers costing about 30 thousand dollars. We got the explosives from the VRS general staff, and the timers from a factory in Banja Luka.But you did attack civilian targets, you hit office buildings and houses throughout Srebrenica?
They were military targets, that was where Naser had installed his HQ. His HQ can’t have been in every apartment that you hit!
If the odd bullet goes astray, what can you do? You can’t guide a bullet. Even Milosevic’s minister Goran Matic spoke about the crimes committed by your unit when the terrorist espionage group Pauk [Spider] was arrested in Serbia.
Of the five arrested, only Pelemis was a member of the 10th commando detachment. He’d never been a spy, but Jugoslav Petrusic known as Colonel Dominik had worked and still works for the French secret service. He came from the Foreign Legion and I got to know him in Bijeljina in 1998. He was friendly with Pelemis and we went off with the two of them to various war zones, first Zaire, then Kosovo and Macedonia. The Pauk group was arrested the day after our return from Kosovo, and that was because all our weapons for silent liquidation – which we had brought in illegally across the Drina – had been left at Misa Pelemis’ place. When these arms were found, they were said to have been intended for an assassination attempt against Milosevic, which was absurd.
So through Petrusic you went off in 1998 to fight in Zaire? How many of you went, and how did you go?
Everything was organized by Jugo [Petrusic] and a Russian called Sergej, an officer from a commando regiment. I spent three months in Zaire and earned about 16,000 dollars. Jugo was the commander, and Miso Pelemis was his deputy. There were 80 of us, half were members of the 63rd parachute or 72nd special brigade from Serbia, while we from Republika Srpska made up the other half, including several of us from the 10th commando detachment, mainly from Bijeljina and Vlasenica.
For whom did you fight in Zaire, and in what kind of operations?
We fought for President Mobutu. We were fools. If we’d fought for the rebels, we’d have stayed longer and earned more. Our job was to prevent rebel actions. We carried out some big operations, such as mining an airport that the rebels were about to take. We placed 5,000 kilograms of explosives on that airport. After the explosion four buildings could have fitted into the crater.How many rebels died?
I don’t know. They were everywhere, it was impossible to collect them. Within a 10-kilometre circle they were all dead. It was an explosion to level mountains. Jugo Petrusic was the leader in all our operations. He speaks several languages, even some African one, because he has a son with a black woman from some country near Somalia.
In France, he’s a colonel there and works as an intelligence officer. Actually, they stripped him of his rank because he killed some officer. He took Petrovic with him too, who was arrested with him in the Pauk business and he’s now in the Foreign Legion. He invited me too, but I didn’t feel like going, I’ve got small kids.
What did you do in Kosovo in 1999?
Misa Pelemis collected us together in a Belgrade hotel and we were immediately attached to the Nis army region. We went to Decani, as part of the military police. General Nebojsa Pavlovic at first didn’t want to allow us into Kosovo, but when ‘Papa’ Mladic called him he fell into line straight away. We crossed over into Albanian territory and carried out commando actions, mining roads and so on. We were supposed to get pay from the Nis army region, each of us was promised 48,000 dinars, but we got only 1,200 dinars and 500 marks from France.
From whom in France did you get money to fight in Kosovo?
Some friend of Petrusic’s came to see us from France, perhaps from the Foreign Legion, and brought 24,000 marks for the twenty-four of us, but we got only 500 marks each. Whether Miso took the rest or somebody else I don’t know.
What did you do in Macedonia?
Once again we went through Jugo and Miso, and were attached to the Macedonian army which paid us. I earned about 4,000 marks. We were in Tetovo, we went behind the Albanian lines, laid explosive charges and carried out other commando actions.Have you been guarding ‘Papa’ Mladic in the past few years?
We were with him right up to 1998, and some of our lot were guarding him even later at Topcider [Belgrade], but they couldn’t stand the discipline that’s maintained round him, and the pay was only 300 marks.
What are your plans now? It seems to me you don’t feel exactly secure in Republika Srpska?
We’re getting ready for some new jobs that once again Jugo Petrusic is finding for us. Last year we were supposed to go to Africa, but pulled out off after the terrorist attacks in Russia. We were supposed to go to Johannesburg to guard diamond and gold mines in which prisoners work. Up to now Englishmen have been doing it for 11,000 dollars a month, but now the government is paying only 7,000 dollars and the English have pulled out. We have agreed to that price and are getting ready to go off there. We’re going to sign a three-year contract with their government, though some African country where there’s a war against rebels, where there’s actual fighting, would have suited us better, because the mines will be boring for us. We had an offer for Iraq, the allies offered us 15,000 dollars a month, but that’s not work for us, they’re fighting in the town centres and they’re taking casualties. We refused.
It’s true that I don’t feel really serene here. I’m not scared of being arrested, but that I’ll be got rid of by these locals, who find me a nuisance.
Although right back in 1996 when he was arrested Erdemovic had offered the Prosecutor’s Office information about the executioners from the 10th commando detachment, they lived in Republika Srpska, mainly in the Bijeljina and Vlasenica areas, without fear of indictment or arrest. Thus Seselj’s statement last week caused real uproar, both among the members of the former 10th commando detachment – the killers from Srebrenica – who were living ‘peaceful family lives’, and also among their protectors in the police and military command of Republika Srpska and of Serbia, who are scared Milosevic will use them as scapegoats.
In any case, the commander of the unit Milorad Pelemis already had this experience in 1999, when he was arrested as a member of the Pauk group – though not as Milosevic and Seselj maintain for crimes at Srebrenica, but for espionage, attempting to assassinate Milosevic, and the murder of two Albanians in Kosovo. Also arrested with Pelemis were Jugoslav Petrusic, Branko Vlaco, Rade Petrovic and Slobodan Orasanin.
Petrusic’s closest associate in these actions would be the wartime commander of the 10th commando detachment Milorad Pelemis, and the members of this unit – the killers from Srebrenica – followed them as devoted mercenaries through the bloodiest war zones.
The statements by Milosevic and Seselj about how the 10th commando detachment was controlled not by the VRS but by the French secret service are tendentious fabrications. Proof of this has been provided to our publication by a former member of the unit, who has explained that the members of the unit carried out all orders and assignments by command of Ratko Mladic and the VRS general staff. Milorad Pelemis tells his friends in Belgrade the same thing, explaining that he has a strong connection in Brussels who is protecting him against Milosevic’s charges. So far as the direct perpetrators from Srebrenica are concerned, whose names are being published here for the first time, they have until now felt secure, thanks among others to the Republika Srpska police chief Dragan Andan, who has never dreamed of arresting them even though he knew all about them. For Andan himself was one of the closest associates of Ratko Mladic at the time of the Srebrenica operation, in his role as deputy commander of Mladic’s guard regiment.
Brano Gojkovic, Serb from Vlasenica. Unemployed, married, the father of two children. He gets paid by the day for casual labouring jobs. As a member of Jugoslav Petrusic’s group, he spent time as a mercenary in Zaire, and then also in Kosovo.
Vlastimir Golijan, likewise a Serb from Vlasenica, unemployed, working occasionally as a labourer.
Stanko Savanovic, Serb from Bijeljina, now in the Central prison in Belgrade, awaiting trial for placing explosive charges on Serbian territory. Already sentenced to 20 years for the murder and torture of several prostitutes at Batajnica.
Marko Boskic, Bosnian Croat from Bijeljina, moved last year to the USA, but was arrested there in April this year and handed over to The Hague. Arrested by chance, because of a false driving licence, after which he provoked a number of traffic accidents. (Update: ARRESTED)
Franc Kos, Slovenian, he lives in Bijeljina and works as a plumber. (Update: UNDER INVESTIGATION)
Zoran Goronja, from Bosanski Novi. Recently left for Germany.
Aleksandar Cvetkovic, lives in Milici and drives a truck for a freight company.
From Srebrenica Genocide Blog:
Here is a list of Srebrenica genocide perpetrators who are still in position of power, read here. Some criminals were arrested in the United States, and some were deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina., research it here.
“I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. However, I don’t think like that. To me, there is other side, political side who thinks like that,” said Naser Oric to ATV, as reported by Serbia’s B92.
Serbian government propaganda has been particularly active in justifying Srebrenica genocide by claiming that over ‘3,000 Serb civilians’ were murdered around Srebrenica. This type of propaganda has long been discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal, Serbia’s Human Right Watch, and Bosnia’s State-level Research and Documentation Center. About 151 Serbs died around Srebrenica, compared to more than 8,400 Bosniaks. The figure of “3,000 Serb civilians,” which Srebrenica genocide justifiers constantly cite, was originally propagated by another Srebrenica genocide denier, Milivoje Ivanisevic from Belgrade. Ivanisevic himself contributed to the horrific massacres by supplying Serb Army with bogus lists of the so called “war criminals from Srebrenica” in 1995.
In 1992, Srebrenica was flooded by thousands of Bosniak refugees. It was a UN-protected enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces who then forcibly expelled tens of thousands of refugees, and killed more than 8,000 men, children, and elderly.
In 2006, Oric was initially found guilty of failing to prevent his subordinates killing 6 Bosnian Serb prisoners and maltreating others held in Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993 – a period of war when Serb forces were committing massacres and ethnic cleansing against the predominantly Bosniak population of Podrinje and Eastern Bosnia. At that time, he was freed upon sentencing, having spent more than three years in custody awaiting trial. Both Oric and the prosecution appealed the sentence.
Smiling broadly on Thursday, Oric told journalists: “Of course, I am very happy.” “We expected this, everyone who followed the trial expected the outcome,” he said through his English-speaking legal representative Vasvija Vidovic. Spending three years in detention was “part of my destiny,” said Oric, adding: “Life goes on.”
“I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. However, I don’t think like that. To me, there is other side, political side who thinks like that,” said Naser Oric to ATV, as reported by Serbia’s B92.
“And since I am a soldier, I know that Serbs… true Serbs who are also soldiers, know well that I fought them fair and square on a battlefield. Therefore, I don’t think they are jelaous because of my acquittal; they knew for a long that I was never a war criminal, and that I was a soldier fighting on a battlefield for survival, and nothing else,” – said Oric.
Asked whether the judgment vindicated the Bosniak defence of Srebrenica, he said, “I don’t think the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica committed real crimes. We were just fighting to survive, fighting for our lives.”
Schomburg said the prosecution had failed to prove a link between Oric and the crimes allegedly committed by soldiers under his command. “Criminal proceedings require evidence establishing beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is individually responsible for a crime before a conviction can be entered,” said Schomburg.
The families of more than 8,000 Srebrenica genocide victims welcomed the ruling.
“The evidence that Naser Oric is innocent have always existed and I think it is inequitable that he spent almost four years in jail,”said for Fena on Thursday the president of the Association of Mothers from the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, Munira Subasic.
“How could someone … question the one who defended himself at the site of genocide?” asked Munira Subasic.
Abduraham Malkic, Srebrenica Municipality mayor, on the occasion of the acquitting verdict for Naser Oric, gave announcement saying that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in Hague (ICTY) showed the character of the conflicts on the territory of Srebrenica.
Commenting on the decision, Srebrenica Mayor Abdurahman Malkic said the judgment proved that the Bosnian Army was never involved in the systematic and organized crimes against Serbs in the Srebrenica area.
Associations of demobilized soldiers from the Bosnian Army also welcomed the chamber’s decision and called for the urgent arrest of Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects still at large.
(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]
Thousands welcome Bosnian defender of Srebrenica after release from UN tribunal; New Srebrenica Massacre Lawsuit to Follow
Oric’s defence counsel Vasvija Vidovic said her team would appeal against the judgement, because at the end of the trial in April this year they had called for an acquittal on all charges. But she appeared to be pleased with the judgement, anyway.His indictment initially included six charges. But two of them –relating to the alleged plunder of public or private property – were dropped on June 8, after the judges agreed at the end of the prosecution case that there was no evidence to support them.
“This has not been an easy case,” Judge Agius said in April this year, summarising the 18 months of tough arguments and mutual accusations exchanged between prosecution and defence, the surprising twists and turns, incongruous testimonies, inconclusive prosecution evidence and courtroom drama which marked this case from its very beginning.Naser Oric had commanded troops defending the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, where a 1995 Serb assault ended with the massacre of over 8,000 men and children (boys) in a week. As a local commander, Oric was very successful in military terms. Not only did he manage to prevent Serb forces from conquering Srebrenica in the early stages of war – when Bosniaks elsewhere were losing a lot of territory – but in a short time he also doubled the territory controlled by his forces.
Several thousand people gathered at Sarajevo’s airport to greet Oric; most were survivors of Europe’s worst civilian massacre since the Holocaust. The jubilant crowds formed a convoy of cars to escort Oric to the northern city of Tuzla, where he lived since the end of the war.
Many wore T-shirts with Oric’s picture and the words: “Never forget Naser. He is a hero.”One of the Serb commanders found responsible for the massacre, Radoslav Krstic, has already been sentenced to 40 years after a conviction on Srebrenica Genocide charges. The commander of the Bosnian Serb army, Gen. Ratko Mladic – also charged with genocide for the Srebrenica killings – is in hiding and believed to be in neighbouring Serbia.
“I am pleased he’s been released,” said one supporter, Nura Begovic of the Association of Srebrenica Women. “But I think he didn’t deserve to spend even one day in prison – he shouldn’t have gone to The Hague in the first place.”
AMSTERDAM – A Netherlands-based law firm is preparing to file a suit against the Dutch government and the United Nations seeking damages for almost 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) who lost relatives in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
“We think we have strong case,” lawyer Axel Hagedorn told Reuters. He and Marco Gerritsen head a 14-strong team from the firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef, which has spent two years preparing the suit, Hagedorn said.
Hagedorn accuses the Dutch armed forces and the United Nations of failing to protect the people in Srebrenica and of collaborating with the Bosnian Serb forces.
During the Bosnian war, Srebrenica became a supposed safe area guarded by a Dutch army unit operating under a U.N. mandate but the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
Over 8,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were executed in the worst mass killing in Europe since World War Two.
The lawsuit will be filed within three to four months in front of a Dutch court, Hagedorn said.
“Attempts to talk to the Dutch government about a compensation for the relatives were not answered. We see a lawsuit as the only option,” Gerritsen said.
He plans to set up a foundation for the relatives which would be funded by the Netherlands and the United Nations.
Six former Bosnian Serb officers are due to go on trial on July 14 at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague on charges of genocide related to the Srebrenica massacre.
Oric’s Two Years – By Human Rights Watch