News 12 Dec 16

Ratko Mladic Defence: 1992 Genocide ‘Not Proved’

In closing arguments at Ratko Mladic’s trial, the defence said UN prosecutors did not prove the former Bosnian Serb military chief’s forces committed genocide in six Bosnian municipalities in 1992.

Radosa Milutinovic
BIRN
Belgrade
Ratko Mladic and lawyer Dejan Ivetic in court on Monday.

Mladic’s defence lawyer Dejan Ivetic told the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague on Monday that the prosecutors had not proved that there was a coordinated plan for the commission of genocide in the six municipalities or that the Bosnian Serb Army commander was responsible for persecution and ethnic cleansing there.

Ivetic blamed the crimes that were committed on Bosnian Serb police forces and local authorities, over which Mladic had no authority.

“General Mladic cannot be held responsible for actions committed by civil authorities,” he said.

Mladic, 74, stands accused of the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which in 1992 allegedly reached the scale of genocide in six municipalities - Prijedor, Foca, Kljuc, Sanski Most, Kotor Varos and Vlasenica.

He is also on trial for the genocide of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in 1995, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising the population of Sarajevo during the siege of the Bosnian capital, and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

To show that there was no genocidal intention to destroy Bosniaks and Croats as ethnic groups, Ivetic mentioned that the non-Serb population stayed in the municipality of Srbac until the end of the war.

He also said Bosniaks and Croats made up ten per cent of the Bosnian Serb Army’s members at the end of the war.

“Did they commit genocide against themselves and their own families? That is illogical, just like the prosecution’s allegations. Therefore you must free General Mladic,” he said.

According to Ivetic, on the contrary, Mladic “absolutely advocated a peaceful solution” and “did all he could to prevent escalation of violence”.

“Murders were unplanned incidents, which were neither approved nor projected by Mladic,” the defence lawyer said.

He claimed that the non-Serb population did not flee because of persecution by Bosnian Serb forces, but “chose to leave” due to the war and the lack of supplies.

Even if the Bosnian Serb Army moved people from war zones, it was done “temporarily”, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, he added.

“The evidence does not indicate that the local population in the hands of the [Bosnian Serb Army] was forcedly deported,” Ivetic said.

Commenting on the crimes committed in Prijedor in 1992, which the prosecutors described as an example of genocide, Ivetic said that Bosniak paramilitary groups caused the war in the municipality.

The Bosnian Serb Army carried out “legitimate actions” aimed at disarming the paramilitaries, although some Serbs “overreacted out of fear of a new genocide against them, like the one that happened during the Second World War, and not because of some plan made by Ratko Mladic”, he insisted.

Ivetic said that the detention centres where crimes were committed against Bosniak and Croat prisoners were set up by the Bosnian Serb interior ministry and crisis committees run by local authorities, not by the army under Mladic’s command.

Ivetic said that Mladic did not receive reports about crimes against civilians, but only reports on “legitimate actions against the paramilitaries”.

Addressing the accusation that the Bosnian Serb Army buried about 500 civilians, who were killed during an offensive in the Prijedor area, in a mine at Tomasica, Ivetic said it had also not been proved.

“According to evidence, the bodies were not buried by members of the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army], but MUP [the interior ministry], who wore similar uniforms,” he said.

The defence will complete the presentation of its closing arguments on Tuesday , and then both the prosecution and defence will both have the opportunity to rebut each other’s statements on December 15.

The verdict is expected next year.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

News 21 Mar 17

Ratko Mladic Asks for Hospital Treatment in Russia

News 04 Jan 17

Croatia Urges Serbia to Return Religious Artefacts

2016 in Review 23 Dec 16

Bosnia: Trials and Votes Deepen Divisions

News 15 Dec 16

Ratko Mladic’s Trial Hears Final Statements

News 13 Dec 16

Defence Urges UN Court to Acquit Ratko Mladic

News 12 Dec 16

Ratko Mladic Defence: 1992 Genocide ‘Not Proved’

News 07 Dec 16

UN Prosecutors Demand Life Sentence for Ratko Mladic

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.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter