News 12 Aug 15

Ratko Mladic’s Wife Gives Him Srebrenica Alibi

The wife of former Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic told the Hague Tribunal that he was with her in Belgrade in the days when troops allegedly under his control massacred Bosniaks from Srebrenica.

Justice Report
BIRN
Belgrade
Bosiljka Mladic in the courtroom. Photo: ICTY.

Bosiljka Mladic testified at her husband’s war crimes trial at the UN-backed court in The Hague on Wednesday that she was with him at their apartment in Belgrade in July 1995 during the days when the Srebrenica massacres took place.

She said that on July 16, 1995, they attended a wedding and then met a group of Serb refugees at the military academy.

She told the court that her husband could not have committed mass crimes and called the Srebrenica killings “propaganda”.

“I asked him: ‘Ratko, tell me if you gave an order about these crimes in Srebrenica?’ He got serious and looked at me sternly and said: ‘Do you doubt me?’” she said with a trembling voice.

During cross-examination by prosecutor Margaret Hassan, she said that she “did not accept” that soldiers under her husband’s command killed more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica.

“I am sure he could not have committed such a crime and I think he should not be convicted. I always condemn any crime, even if my husband would commit one,” she said.

Former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic is on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for his role in orchestrating the Srebrenica genocide, the persecution of non-Serbs in several Bosnian municipalities, which allegedly also reached the scale of genocide, terrorising the population of Sarajevo, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Asked to describe what Ratko Mladic did between July 14 and 17, 1995, when the massacres took place, his wife said he was at home in Belgrade.

The prosecution tried to dispute the witness’s claims that Mladic did not give any orders during this time by quoting a recorded conversation between the defendant and an unknown person on July 16, 1995, during which Mladic says: “How is it up there, near Vinko?… Full steam ahead, maximum security... Do not wait for orders, if they go into the air, shoot them down.”

According to the prosecution, the conversation suggests that Mladic wanted NATO aircrafts near the town of Zepa to be brought down.

Bosiljka Mladic said that she was not an expert on such issues, but added that “orders are given on a secure line, and this was an ordinary line”.

She said that prior to her husband’s arrest in 2011, she last saw him in 2001, when Belgrade extradited Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague. Until that time, the witness said, “the state still protected him”.

Mladic lived freely until Milosevic’s extradition but then went on the run for a decade.

His wife insisted that she had no contact with him during that time.

She said that for at least six months before his arrest, she was confident he was already dead, as he had a stroke in 1996 and was “probably living in difficult conditions” in hiding.

The trial continues.

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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

War in Bosnia

Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

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