News 14 Jun 12

Serbian Army Knew About the Unit That Hid Mladic

All the top officers of the Serbian Army knew about the existence of the unit allegedly in charge of protecting Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb commander, claims a witness.

Marija Ristic

A Serbian Army officer, Marjan Mircevski, testified on Wednesday at the trial against Mladic’s accomplices, that one of the accused, Blagoje Govedarica, former member of the Serbian Army, was regularly reporting to his superiors about the issues in the 30th Personnel Centre of the Yugoslav Army stationed at the Topcider military barracks.

“All the officers of the 1st Command Unit of the Serbian Army knew about the Centre, and not only the officers, but also many people working at the Topcider barracks knew about it as well,” Mircevski said.

The 30th Personnel Centre was a unit, consisting of former members of the Army of Republika Srpska, allegedly in charge of providing a security detail for Mladic. The Centre was disbanded on March 31, 2002, two years after Milosevic had been ousted from power. 

Govedarica was tasked with providing food supplies for the Centre, which he was getting from the Serbian Army, and Mircevski was his liaison officer.

Mircevski said that Govedarica was doing everything according to the law, and that “if he had refused an order like that, he would have been court marshalled.”

According to Mircevski, the Serbian Army ceased to supply the food when the unit was shut down in 2002.

Previously, Govedarica testified that he was at the bottom of the command chain and that he received orders from Branislav Puhalo, the former chief of Ratko Mladic’s security team.

There were suspicions that Puhalo helped Mladic while he was on the run, but the investigation was stopped in 2006.

At the earlier hearing held on April 19, Puhalo testified that all the state leaders knew that Mladic was in Belgrade.

Mladic was on the run for 16 years. He was arrested on May 26 in 2011, in the village of Lazarevo in Vojvodina. He is currently on trial at the Hague Tribunal, charged with 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the Srebrenica genocide, committed during the war in Bosnia.

This is the second trial of the ten people accused of hiding Mladic. The verdict from 2010 that acquitted them was quashed and the case sent for re-trial. 

One of the accused, former Yugoslav Army officer Jovo Djogo, which was considered to be the ringleader, passed away during the first trial.

The current chief prosecutor at the Hague Tribunal, Serge Brammerz, in his recent bi-annual report to the UN Security Council said that the last issue between Serbia and the ICTY, discovering who helped Mladic, still remains unresolved.

The trial will continue on October 2.




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