News 01 Feb 18

Milosevic ‘Didn’t Fully Back Bosnian Serb War Goals’

Former Serbian security chief Jovica Stanisic’s defence tried to prove that Slobodan Milosevic advocated the acceptance of peace plans in Bosnia and Herzegovina which did not meet the Bosnian Serbs’ goals.

Radosa Milutinovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Slobodan Milosevic in court in The Hague. Photo: ICTY.

Jovica Stanisic’s defence lawyer told the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals in The Hague on Thursday that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s support for the creation of a Serb state in Bosnia and Herzegovina did not mean the same as supporting all the Bosnian Serbs’ wartime aims.

The Bosnian Serbs’ goals, which were announced in May 1992, included the separation of Serbs from Bosniaks and Croats, the connection of Serb territories in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to Serbia, the removal of “the border between Serbs” along the River Drina, and the division of Sarajevo.

Prosecution witness Robert Donia, an American historian, who was under cross-examination, confirmed that unlike Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic, Milosevic advocated the acceptance of the Vance-Owen peace plan in 1993, according to which none of the Bosnian Serbs’ war goals would be achieved.

Stanisic’s defence also claimed that Milosevic objected to the unification of all Serb territories, which was proposed by the Bosnian and Croatian Serb leaders during the war.

Donia agreed, noting that Milosevic’s primary motive was the lifting of international sanctions against Serbia.

But he insisted that Milosevic’s administration, in principle, supported the creation of a homogenous Serb state in Bosnia during the war.

Stanisic’s defence lawyer Wayne Jordash did not deny that Milosevic supported the creation of such a state.

Jordash quoted an extract from war diaries of the Bosnian Serb Army commander Ratko Mladic, who wrote that during a meeting in November 1993, Milosevic identified “the creation of [Bosnian Serb entity] Republika Srpska as a totally independent state” as a main goal, in addition to strengthening the position of Serbia.

The defence was seeking to refute Donia’s claim in court on Tuesday that the authorities in Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity shared the same goal during the war.

Jovica Stanisic, the former chief of the Serbian State Security Service, and his deputy, Franko Simatovic, are accused of participating in a joint criminal enterprise aimed at permanently and forcibly removing Croats and Bosniaks from large parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which would then be incorporated into a unified Serb state.

The prosecutors allege that the joint criminal enterprise was led by the former Serbian President Milosevic, while other protagonists included Karadzic and Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic.

The defendants both pleaded not guilty in December 2015 after the appeals chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia overturned their acquittal in their first trial.

The appeals chamber ruled that there were serious legal and factual errors when Stanisic and Simatovic were initially acquitted of war crimes in 2013, and ordered the case to be retried and all the evidence and witnesses reheard in full by new judges.

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