News 19 Dec 14

Mladic ‘Told Serb Troops to Act Like Knights’

A defence witness at the war crimes trial of Ratko Mladic said that the former Bosnian Serb military chief ordered his men not to harm Bosniak prisoners from Srebrenica.

Justice Report
The Hague
Ratko Mladic in court. Photo: Beta.

Milovan Milutinovic, a former spokesman for the Bosnian Serb Army’s general staff, told the Hague Tribunal on Thursday that Mladic, “as an officer and a man, could never issue orders which were contrary to the Geneva Conventions”.

He testified that after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, Mladic said gave an order to his subordinate, the commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Drina Corps, Radislav Krstic, that his troops should “behave like knights” and “that no one must be harmed”.

Mladic had a meeting with representatives of local Bosniaks in nearby Bratunac two days after the fall of Srebrenica and assured them they could decide whether they wanted to leave or stay, as long as they had not committed war crimes, the witness continued.

“General Mladic also said that all Muslim men who are suspected of committing war crimes will be held back,” Milutinovic said, claiming that the suspects were later handed over to the Red Cross.

Asked by the judge if he knew that the detained Bosniaks were executed soon afterwards, the witness replied: “I am hearing that for the first time.”

“Although I was head of the [general staff’s] information service, I didn’t know about the crimes that happened at Srebrenica until almost ten days afterwards,” he said.

Mladic is charged with genocide over the massacres of about 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the days after the Bosnian Serb Army seized the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995.

The prosecutor quoted articles from the Western press about the massacres that were published in mid-July 1995, suggesting that Milutinovic’s information service passed them on to their commander.

“Certainly yes, I think that we said that to general Mladic, but we didn’t knew how high the level of these executions – or let’s say crimes – were in those areas,” Milutinovic said.

He also said that he “didn’t know” who was responsible for the killings.

Milutinovic further testified that Mladic’s forces were not responsible for a series of massacres in Sarajevo, which he said were committed by Bosnian forces to put the blame on the Serbs.

He said that Bosniak troops were responsible for a deadly attack on a bread queue in Vasa Miskin Street in May 1992 and the blasts at the Markale market in February 1994 and August 1995, which killed scores of civilians.

Milutinovic also claimed that after the second explosion at the Markale market on August 28, 1995, in which 43 people were killed, Russian investigators discovered that “some of the victims died earlier and their bodies were exchanged”, indicating that the scale of the carnage was faked by the Bosniak authorities.

The indictment charges Mladic with terrorising the population of Sarajevo with a long-term campaign of shelling and sniper attacks. He is also accused of the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats across the country, which allegedly reached genocidal proportions in seven municipalities, and of taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The trial will continue on January 19 after the Hague Tribunal’s seasonal break.

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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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