PHOTO: Esma Palic holds a photograph of
her late husband Colonel Avdo Palic.
Thee days after the fall of the Žepa UN Safe Area, the commander of the Bosnian Government forces, Colonel Avdo Palić, went to the UN Protection Forces compound in Zepa to negotiate the evacuation of the remaining inhabitants of the enclave. After arriving at the compound and meeting with Ratko Mladic, he was taken by Bosnian Serb forces and was never seen again.
“At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Esma Palic and her family. Mrs. Palic has never stopped seeking the truth, no matter how painful it may be”, said PDHR Gregorian. “We are relieved to know that the Palic family can finally provide Colonel Palic a dignified burial”.
The identification of the location of the mortal remains of Avdo Palic is welcome news indeed. His murderers also have yet to be brought to justice, and the OHR will continue to press the responsible authorities to that end.
“Thanks to the ICMP’s (International Commission for Missing Persons) continual efforts to develop and employ innovative techniques and quality assurance measures, the mortal remains of Avdo Palic have finally been located and will be exhumed in accordance with legal procedure”, said Principal Deputy High Representative Raffi Gregorian today.
“That the ICMP had not given up on this, or any other case, is a testament to its staff’s dedication and commitment to push forward the application of the latest DNA technology to ensure that families can have closure by having restored to them and burying the remains of their missing loved ones.”
Source: Office of the High Representative and EU Special Representative.
“HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT”
Federal Television in Bosnia-Herzegovina (FTV) aired a shocking video on Wednesday evening (June 10th) in the programme 60 Minutes. The footage shows former Bosnian Serb Army Commander, Ratko Mladic, enjoying his life in plain sight in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Ratko Mladic, 67, has been on the run from the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for 14 years, when he was indicted for the Srebrenica genocide and other serious crimes against humanity.
As expected, Serbia’s minister in charge of co-operation with the UN tribunal – Rasim Ljajic – claimed the footage was old. “Not a single shot is less than eight years old,” he said. Ratko Mladic has never been seriously pursued by nationalist governments in Serbia and therefore, anything that the Serbian ultra-nationalist government says should be taken with a grain of salt.
The video was found and confiscated during search of the flat of Mladic’s wife Bosiljka on December 4 last year at the order of the Chamber for war crimes of the District court in Belgrade. During the search, Belgrade investigators also found Ratko Mladic diaries, some of which we republished on June 7th.
The footage shows Ratko Mladic receiving guests at his house in a Belgrade neighbourhood of Kosutnjak (location) where he introduces guests to BILJANA. “Biljana” is a wife of his son, Darko Mladic. She was Muslim, her previous name was AIDA, but she quietly changed her Muslim name into Serbian name BILJANA. She gave birth on March 2, 2006 to a boy, Mladic’s grandchild. The child has been named after St. Stefan. They apparently have one more daughter, Anastazija, who was born in 2001. It is unclear which baby he was holding on his lap.
Some parts of this amateur video show Ratko Mladic attending a wedding party of one his bodyguards in a restaurant Kula near Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in September 2000. The restaurant is situated in the so called “East Sarajevo”, rural part of Sarajevo held by Bosnian Serbs, which is close to the main military NATO headquarters located in the Federal part of Sarajevo. The restaurant is also near Ratko Mladic’s village of birth – Božinovići. The village is located near the Jahorina mountain, southeast of Sarajevo.
Another part of this video shows Mladic as slowly walking on a snow-covered mountain path with a cane, looking significantly older than in other footage. According to some reports, he had a “stroke” in 2006 and he hardly recovered from it. Since then, he started walking with a cane. Therefore, it looks like this part of the footage is indeed from 2006 or even 2008 as claimed by FTV.
Then, the video also shows Ratko Mladic sitting in peaceful wooded surroundings of what the television said were Serbian Army military barracks. Serbian government said that “the last time Mladic was in military premises was at the Krcmari army barracks near [the eastern Serbian town of] Valjevo on June 1, 2002.” However, the footage shows significantly older Ratko Mladic holding onto his cane while sitting with his wife in a compound surrounded by trees. He jokingly complains there is not enough coffee on the table.
The compound looks a like guarded military base. The entrance sign to the compound reads, “Barutana. Izgradjena 1807 god. Restaurirana 1976 god.” (Gun Powder Factory. Built in 1807. Restored in 1976.), which is part of Belgrade Castle (Beogradska Tvrdjava) built by Ottomans.
The oldest portion of this video shows Ratko Mladic attending a funeral of his daughter, Ana, who committed a suicide in 1994. You may recall that in 1994, Mladic was actively murdering Bosniak civilians – women, children, men, and elderly – in Sarajevo and other cities in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He felt no emotion for mass murders of Bosniaks, but he sobs uncontrollably in front of his daughter’s coffin. A perfect psychopath, indeed.
A spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office at the ICTY said that they were examining the footage and would comment later. In the meantime, former Ratko Mladic bodyguard, Branislav Puhalo, told a Belgrade court Tuesday that Mladic was guarded by about 50 heavily armed men who were staying at an army barracks in Belgrade. He said the protection unit was set up in 1997 under orders from former President Slobodan Milosevic.
“It was all legal,” Puhalo said at the trial of 10 people charged with helping Mladic evade justice. “We were tasked with protecting Mladic from criminals and bounty hunters.” Puhalo said that Mladic’s protection unit was disbanded in March 2002.
So we have 10 people standing trial for helping Ratko Mladic evade justice, but what about Radovan Karadzic’s supporters? We wonder, why the same Belgrade Court failed to charge family members of Radovan Karadzic for helping him evade justice? Remember that Ratko Mladic’s boss, Radovan Karadzic, freely traveled and regularly stayed in touch with his family, especially his wife Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic – all with the help of Dragan Karadzic, son of Radovan’s brother Luka Karadzic. None of these people have ever been charged with obstruction of justice.
The daily states that the diary was seized during a search of the home of Mladic’s wife, Bosiljka, on December 4, 2008. The Belgrade authorities submitted Mladic’s notebook to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at the Hague on February 25 this year, and it reached The Hague on March 2.
It remains a mystery whether Serbian authorities submitted all pages to the Hague. It is also unknown whether any submitted (or possibly “missing”) pages reveal anything about Mladic’s activities in planning, ordering, and executing the Srebrenica genocide operation in July 1995.
Mladic is the most-wanted war crimes fugitive, indicted for the crime of Srebrenica genocide, as well as for the crime of Bosnian Genocide committed in other nine municipalities during the 1992-1995 war.
According to the war crimes tribunal’s sources, the “notes illustrate the cooperation between participants in the joint criminal enterprise, which includes the accused Stanisic”, who played the role “of chief coordinator of various participants of the enterprise”.
The notes suggest the meetings were held between January 27 and September 5, 1995 – a period before, during, and after the Srebrenica genocide. At least 8,372 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) had been summarily executed and dumped into mass graves, while 30,000 Bosniaks had been ethnically cleansed from the town during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
The diary is made up of a number of hand-written notes in Cyrillic, and the entry for February 4, 1995 describes his meeting with Father Filaret, who asked him to provide security for his son-in-law. The collected information suggests that Mladic has been hiding in urban parts of Serbia since 2001, with a special affection for New Belgrade part of the city. Prosecutors want it to be entered into the list of evidence against Stanisic.
Mladic is said to mention former US president Bill Clinton in the diary and to criticize Russia’s role in the 1992-1995 war.
“Mladić also details meetings with certain people he spoke to about money for ‘buying the U.S. senator,’ mentions former Croatian President Franjo Tuđman and his trip to America, as well as certain information about army funding in 1994,” Blic adds.
Hague prosecutors had requested that the diary be listed as evidence against Stanisic and his former deputy, Franko Simatovic.
MEANWHILE: On June 4, at the UN Security Council session in New York, President of the ICTY – Patrick Robinson – stated that “It is necessary that the Serbian authorities extradite the remaining two fugitives, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, to the Hague Tribunal, as it represents a prerequisite for peace and stability in the region.”
He added that, should Ratko Mladic be soon arrested, his trial might be linked with Karadzic’s one. Stating that the proceedings against Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic just started and that the trial against Stojan Zupljanin will be completed by end this year, Robinson assessed that the Tribunal will complete most of its work by end of 2013, but underlined that some factors might lead to extension.
Serge Brammertz, Chief ICTY Prosecutor, stated that Serbia has made additional progress in cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, referring to the issue of access to documents, records and witnesses. He said, however, that the issue of arrest of the remaining indictees, Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic, is essential.
The Netherlands has announced that its position on Serbia’s EU integration remains unchanged, because the report did not appraise that Belgrade had established full cooperation with this court.
Investigators raided homes of Ratko Mladic’s family in Belgrade, Serbia, and Radovan Karadzic’s family in Pale, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
PHOTO: Police vehicle is seen in front of family apartments of the most wanted war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic in Belgrade December 4, 2008. Police searched several locations across Serbia on Thursday looking for former Bosnian Serb war-time general Mladic, a source in the war crimes prosecutor’s office said.
PHOTO: Members of Serbian anti-terrorist unit secure area around family apartments of the most wanted war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic in Belgrade on December 4, 2008.
In a sickening show of ‘reassurance’ Bosnian Serb commander-in-chief General Ratko Mladic — now on the war crimes tribunal’s most wanted list — told the women everyone would be taken out by bus out and safely reunited. When the cameras were turned off the real face of the Serb army emerged as the slaughter began.
More than 60 truckloads of refugees were taken from Srebrenica to execution sites where they were bound, blindfolded, and shot with automatic rifles. Some of the executions were carried out at night under arc lights. Industrial bulldozers then pushed the bodies into mass graves. Some were buried alive, a French policeman who collected evidence from Bosnian Muslims, Jean-Rene Ruez, told The Hague tribunal in 1996.
He gave evidence that Bosnian Serb forces had killed and tortured refugees at will. Streets were littered with corpses, he said, and rivers were red with blood. Many people committed suicide to avoid having their noses, lips and ears chopped off, he said.
Among other lurid accounts of mass murder, Ruez cited cases of adults being forced to kill their children or watching as soldiers ended the young lives. “One soldier approached a woman in the middle of a crowd,” he said. “Her child was crying. The soldier asked why the child was crying and she explained that he was hungry. The soldier made a comment like, ‘He won’t be hungry anymore.’ He slit the child’s throat in front of everybody.”
NATO troops also searched Radovan Karadzic’s family home at Pale, near Sarajevo, for evidence of contacts to the network that has helped genocide suspect Ratko Mladic evade arrest. Karadzic’s wife Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic and his daughter Sonja Karadzic were among those at home, and they were questioned; however, their credibility is questionable.
PHOTO: In this video image NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia secure the area outside the home, right, of Radovan Karadzic’s wife, Ljiljana, during a raid and interview with family members over suspected links with war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic, in Pale, some 20 kilometers east of Sarajevo on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. NATO troops searched Radovan Karadzic’s family home Tuesday for evidence of contacts to the network that has helped genocide suspect Ratko Mladic evade arrest. Karadzic and his former general Mladic are accused of having masterminded the 1995 Srebrenica genocide and the armed siege of Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war.
Before his arrest, Srebrenica genocide architect Radovan Karadzic freely traveled and regularly stayed in touch with his family, including his wife, daughter, brother Luka and nephew Dragan. During that time, his wife deliberately mislead investigators, on numerous occasions, claiming that she knew nothing about Karadzic’s whereabouts. She was known by putting up fake tears for the media (see photo) and pretending to be innocent victim who never knew where her husband was hiding, and denied any connection even when NATO troops found letters from Belgrade with Radovan Karadzic’s fake name – Dragan David Dabic – while he was on the run. Unfortunately, Serbia refused to prosecute members of Karadzic’s family, and the war crimes court in Belgrade never responded to our e-mails demanding the prosecution of these criminals, some of who publicly admitted their involvement in directly helping Karadzic evade justice. In July, Serbia arrested Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, also charged with genocide, and handed him over to the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague.
Click here to see photo of visibly shaken Karadzic facing justice in tears.
PHOTO: Wartime Serb General Ratko Mladic, top fugitive sought by the International Criminal Tribunal, is regarded by many Serbs as “hero” for killing 10,000 to 15,000 civilians in Sarajevo – 1,500 of them children – as well as committing Srebrenica genocide and placing thousands of Bosniaks and Croats into concentration camps…
Serbian justice system is a joke. Srebrenica genocide survivors were sick to their stomach when they learned that family of recently arrested top fugitive, Radovan Karadzic, knew about his whereabouts and even assisted him to evade justice. Before his arrest, Karadzic’s family lied on numerous occassions about not knowing anything about his whereabouts. Serbia refused to prosecute members of Karadzic’s family, and the war crimes court in Belgrade never responded to our e-mails demanding the prosecution of these criminals who publicly admitted their involvement in directly helping Karadzic evade justice. When NATO raided house of Karadzic’s wife, Ljiljana Zelen-Karadzic, they found letters from Belgrade with initials Dragan David Dabic. She was known by putting up fake tears for the media and pretending to be innocent victim who never knew where her husband was. (related: see photo of visibly shaken Karadzic facing justice in tears)
There is a $5 million reward issued for the information leading to the arrest of indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic.
Rasim Ljajic, the highest ranking Bosniak politician in Serbia, has confirmed that part of the information Ratko Mladic submitted for his ID card application has been mysteriously “lost.” Ljajic is also the president of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and leader of the Sanjak Democratic Party. Sanjak (or Sandzak) is a region lying along the border between Serbia and Montenegro where Bosniaks Muslims make up majority or 52.36% of population.
Ljajic stated that the information about mysteriously lost fingerprints “should not have come out in public,” but said that allegedly an investigation is underway into the lost documentation.
Serbian Daily Blic writes that like Radovan Karadzic and Stojan Zupljanin, Ratko Mladic is using a false identity and documents in another name. Blic stated that this revelation has infuriated the new security services boss, Sasa Vukadinovic, on whose arrival it was ascertained that information was leaking out and reaching Mladic himself.
The Blic daily newspaper quoted Serbian war crimes prosecutor Vladimir Vukcevic as saying that Mladic’s capture will be a much tougher job than the arrest in July of another genocide suspect, Radovan Karadzic.
“The inner circle of guards around Ratko Mladic includes people who are ready to use weapons at any moment. That is why the arrest of the most wanted … suspect is much harder than was the case with Karadzic,” – Vukcevic said. He expects Mladic’s quick arrest, but predicted that the fugitive is in fact not hiding in disguise like his recently captured partner in crime Radovan Karadzic.
“If Serbia really wants a European future, they must also cooperate with the handing over of one of the persons responsible for the only genocide in the European continent after the second World War” – Maxime Verhagen, Foreign Minister of Netherlands
The Netherlands will not sign off on a deal paving the way for Serbia to join the European Union until Belgrade turns over war crimes fugitive Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Dutch foreign minister said Wednesday.
Maxime Verhagen (photo on the left) was meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Dimitrij Rupel of Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency
Rupel wants Serbia to sign the preliminary pact later this month, but the Netherlands opposes the move, saying Belgrade can only take the next step toward full EU membership after it has arrested Mladic and handed him to the U.N.’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
“If Serbia really wants a European future, they must also cooperate with the handing over of one of the persons responsible for the only genocide in the European continent after the second World War,” Verhagen told reporters in a hotel on the outskirts of The Hague.
He was referring to Ratko Mladic’s military oversight of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniaks at Srebrenica, Bosnia, which the International Criminal Tribunal ruled was a genocide.
The admission of new EU members must be unanimous, giving the Netherlands the power to block Serbia’s advancement. Belgium has supported the Dutch position.
Earlier Wednesday, Rupel visited the war crimes tribunal, where new chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz told him the court’s view on Serbian cooperation was the same as Verhagen’s.
The EU commissioner in charge of the bloc’s expansion, Olli Rehn, has also said that the signing of the preliminary deal – called a Stabilization and Association Agreement – depends on whether Serbia fully cooperates with the U.N. war crimes court.
At issue has been whether Serbia’s assertion it is doing all it can to track down and arrest Mladic and the other fugitives would be seen as full cooperation.
Verhagen said that, as things stand, it would not be.
“My signature is linked to the full cooperation with the tribunal in The Hague and the best proof that there is full cooperation is that they deliver Mladic to The Hague,” he said.
But “we don’t ask the impossible … from Serbia,” he said. “We don’t ask them to deliver what they can’t deliver.
Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are the top two of four suspects sought by the tribunal. War crimes prosecutors have lost track of Karadzic, who is the top political leader charged with genocide at Srebrenica, but they are sure Mladic remains in Serbia.
Serbia has said repeatedly it is doing all it can to arrest the fugitives and is working with tribunal investigators to track them down.
Brammertz, who replaced Carla Del Ponte at the start of January, issued a statement Wednesday saying that having the remaining fugitives arrested “remains an absolute priority.”
Lawyers for thousands of survivors of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II were filing suit Monday against the United Nations and the Dutch government for their failure to protect civilians in the Srebrenica safe haven when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and slaughtered some 8,000 men.
“In the last three years a strong case has been built against the Dutch state and the U.N., who will be held jointly responsible for the fall of the enclave and the genocide that took place there as a result,” Dutch law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef said in a statement. “The procedure must lead to a result whereby the relatives who survived this drama can finally get recognition and a sense of satisfaction.”
About 200 survivors, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, were traveling from Bosnia to accompany lawyers as they delivered a civil summons to the Dutch government in the early afternoon, the law firm said. Dutch authorities are expected to pass on details to the U.N.
During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica — which had been besieged by Serb forces — a U.N.-protected safe area for civilians.
But around 450 soldiers on peacekeeping duty in Srebrenica stood by helplessly and even assisted in separating women from the men when Bosnian Serb forces stormed the region in July 1995. The men were taken away in buses by the Serb forces and murdered, their bodies plowed into mass graves.
An independent study later cleared the Dutch troops of most blame, noting they were outnumbered, lightly armed and under instructions to fire only in self-defense.
Bosnian Serb military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre but remain on the run.
The legal move against the U.N. and the Netherlands came on the dayZdravko Tolimir, a senior Mladic aide during the slaughter in Srebrenica, was to appear before judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for the first time since he was arrested last week.
Tolimir 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.