Testifying at the war crimes trial of the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic, a former nurse described the town of Srebrenica in 1995 as an open-air prison.
|Christine Schmitz, former nurse of the Doctors Without Borders|
Christine Schmitz, a nurse for Doctors Without Borders in Srebrenica in 1995, testified on Tuesday as the third witness for the prosecution at Mladic’s trial.
“I had a feeling that there was no freedom of movement, since, for example, if someone wanted to go to the town of Sarajevo, they could not. My colleagues who were working in the nearby village of Zepa, secretly transferred things to us [in Srebrenica],” said Schmitz.
Schimtz recalled that in July 1995, a number of civilians fled to the village of Potocari because they feared the Bosnian Serb army which was about to occupy the town of Srebrenica.
She said that Robert Franken, a Deputy of the UN Dutch Battalion, informed her that Mladic requested permission from the United Nations to organize an evacuation of Srebrenica.
The witness then argued with General Mladic, claiming that the evacuation was the job of Doctors Without Borders, DWB, however, Mladic objected and told her to “go work on something else.”
She then said she witnessed the shelling of Srebrenica, the exodus of the people to the UN base in Potocari, the separation of the men from the rest of the population, and the deportation of women and children to the territory controlled by the Bosnian army.
Schmitz explained that she then saw the Serb soldiers taking captured men to the Srebrenica execution sites.
The witness left the enclave on July 21, 1995, together with other DBW staff.
During the first break in the main hearing, Mladic complained to his lawyer about his health, requesting the trial be postponed. However, presiding Judge Alhpons Orie opposed the suggestion, claiming that he has not received any medical record showing that Mladic’s health is in danger.
The trial was interrupted on Thursday due to Mladic’s health, but it continued on Monday after the doctors agreed that he was fit to stand the trial.
Mladic, who was arrested in May last year, has pleaded not guilty to charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war during the Bosnian conflict between 1992 and 1995.
The trial will resume on July 18.
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.