During the summer of 1995 Srebrenica was constantly shelled by Bosnian Serb forces, claims a former UN military observer at the trial of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic.
|Joseph Kingori, former UN military observer|
Joseph Kingori, a former United Nations observer in Srebrenica in 1995, testified on Wednesday that the shelling of the town of Srebrenica was so common that little attention was paid to it.
He added that the shells came from the Bosnian Serb army and that UN staff could determine the exact coordinates of an attack.
“There was a certain pattern of shelling that the Bosnian Serbs used. First they shelled the area, and then waited until the people of Srebrenica went out to pick up the bodies of those wounded and killed. Then the shelling would start again, targeting individuals on the streets,” explained Kingori.
The witness also said that while he was in Srebrenica, he believed that the civilians in the town were constantly hungry, since they did not have means to produce food.
“They were dependent on supplies from the UNHCR and on small things smuggled from the nearby village of Zepa,” he added.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the prosecution played videos shot on July 12, 1995, near the refugee camp in Srebrenica, showing Kingori and Mladic discussing the evacuation of civilians.
Kingori testified that the Bosnian Serb army separated Bosniaks from Srebenica twice – first they separated men from women and children, and a second time the boys aged 12 to 16 from the women.
On Thursday Kingori was cross-examined by Mladic’s defence lawyer Miodrag Stojanovic.
Questioning Kingori’s claim that the UN was not aware that the Srebrenica massacre could take place he reminded the witness that the UN military observers were informed by the Bosnian Serb authorities that the Bosniaks need to be evacuated from the town of Srebrenica since “the Serbs did not want them”.
The lawyer presented the Trial Chamber with a report from the meeting between Kingori and Bosnian Serb military leaders which states that that the witness was told that “if Muslims do not live the town, the enclave would be cleansed of them.”
The eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica was designated as a demilitarised UN “safe area” in 1993. Despite its protected status, Bosnian Serb forces began shelling the town in the summer of 1995, officially capturing it on July 11.
In the days that followed, over 7,000 Bosniak men were killed at various sites around Srebrenica.
During his time in Bosnia, Kingori kept a diary, but he personally burned the notes due to concern for his safety.
After the Kingori’s testimony, the trial was closed to the public because a protected witness who survived the massacre at the Branjevo Military Farm is due to testify.
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 20.
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.