At the trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, a prosecution witness testified that Bosnian Serb civilian structures and the army acted in harmony.
All the Serb Democratic Party-run crisis headquarters were acting in harmony with the army under Mladic’s command in the forced takeover of power in municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina in spring 1992, said the Hague prosecution’s expert witness, Dorothea Hanson.
Hanson, who wrote a report on the “crucial” role of these crisis headquarters after having studied their numerous documents, concluded that the army “coordinated” their activity with the municipal authorities and their forces, including the paramilitary.
Hanson illustrated her point using an intercepted conversation between Mladic and an official of the crisis headquarters from the Ilidz municipality, near Sarajevo, in late May 1992.
“Everyone carrying a rifle who wants to keep a head on his shoulders must succumb to my command,” said Mladic in reply to the other man’s comment that “there were some Arkan’s men around” and ordered that a “five-day truce be respected.”
“This conversation confirms that, when he deemed it necessary, Mladic exercised his power over crisis headquarters and ordered them to join military operations... They had the same goals and they worked together on achieving them,” said Hanson.
Hanson said that crisis headquarters of the Serb Democratic Party, established by the former Bosnian Serb leader and ICTY indictee, Radovan Karadzic, in December 1991, were key instruments in the formation of the Serb municipalities and armed forces across Bosnia.
The headquarters became power structures in the newly formed Serb municipalities from which non-Serbs were massively expelled.
The expert witness’s report specifies that crisis headquarters were formed in accordance with the document known as “Variant A” and “Variant B”, which Karadzic distributed to presidents of municipal branches of the party at the meeting on December 19, 1991.
The document envisaged how the power would be taken over in municipalities in which Serbs were minority, but also in communities where they were the majority.
Mladic is charged with the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, the genocide in Srebrenica, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a campaign of shelling and sniping and taking international soldiers as hostages.
The trial is set to resume on October 31.
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.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
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.