News 05 Feb 15

Mladic Honoured Geneva Convention, Witness Says

Defence witness Vojin Ubiparip told the Ratko Mladic trial that Mladic always respected the Geneva Convention and Muslims leftSerb-held territory on the orders of the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, not because Serbian forces persecuted them into leaving.

Justice Report
The Hague

Ubiparip, former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army battalion at Mt Vlasic, told the court that Muslims often passed through on their way to Bosnian Army controlled territory and that "prominent people" among them told him that "they had received an order to move out...[from Bosnian Serb territory] or their beloved ones would be destroyed".

He said they told him they received such order from "their headquarters.

"I do not know who gave the order, whether it was someone from the military or from a political party," Ubiparip added.

Reminded that in his written statement, which accounted as evidence, he had said that the [Muslim] Party of Democratic Action, SDA, had ordered them to move, the witness replied that some leading Muslims had told him that the order came from "SDA headquarters in Sarajevo.

"They expressed regret that they had to leave. People, according to my knowledge, did not want to leave," Ubiparip testified.

Speaking about several meetings with the defendant, Ubiparip said that Mladic always told the Bosnian Serb military to respect the laws and customs of war and international conventions.

According to the witness, in May 1993 Mladic ordered his soldiers to distribute "reminder on the Geneva convention" and after that no war crimes occurred in his unit.

The former Bosnian Serb military chief is accused of genocide in Srebrenica, the persecution of Muslims and Croats across Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached genocidal proportions in seven municipalities, of terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Radomir Pasic, former head of Crisis Staff in Bosanski Novi municipality, also testified at this hearing. He, too, said that the Muslim population "voluntarily" left that municipality.

"We are constantly accused of having persecuted them, but those people themselves wanted to go," Pasic said.

Mladic's trial continues on Thursday.

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