News 08 Nov 12

Expert Says Defendants Provided Means for Srebrenica Massacre

The defendants, Ostoja Stanisic and Marko Milosevic, could have made sure that equipment, staff and facilities in the Zvornik area were not used for murder of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995, said the expert witness Richard Butler.

Justice Report
BIRN
Sarajevo

Butler said that documentation confirmed that in July 1995 Stanisic was the commander of the 6th Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, and Milosevic his deputy.

“I cannot say whether the commander of the 6th Battalion or his deputy could have prevented the killings. They could have made sure that the staff, equipment and facilities were not used for killings though,” said Butler.

Stanisic and Milosevic are charged with taking part in crimes committed at the dam in Petkovci near Djulici, in the municipality of Zvornik, where in July 1995 around 1,000 imprisoned Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica were executed.

The Zvornik Brigade’s equipment, concluded Butler, played a role in the crimes.

“Bosniak prisoners were held in the school in Petkovci. Vehicles of the 6th Battalion were observed moving from the school to the location at the dam during the evening of July 14 and in the morning of July 15. Based on the depositions of survivors, this matches the period when around 1,000 people were executed near the dam and at the Petkovci School,” said Butler.

He said that the documentation includes two travel orders of the 6th Battalion from July 15, 1995, for the vehicles going from the school, where prisoners were held, to the place of execution at the dam.

Asked by Stanisic’s defence, Butler said that he did not know whether the travel orders were signed by the battalion commander.

“From my work at the Hague Tribunal I learnt that there is data which confirms that on the evening of July 14 and in the morning of July 15 some officers came to the battalion command post and asked that the commander and the officers present provide resources for guarding the prisoners and subsequent activities after the execution,” said Butler.

The expert agreed with Milosevic’s defence that the “commander can transfer his rights and duties, but not responsibility,” which is to say that the commander is in the final analysis responsible for everything.

Butler explained that this was in accordance with the doctrine carried out by the Army of Republika Srpska.

He based his findings and opinion at this trial on four reports he had made earlier for the Hague Tribunal and the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in other cases.

“The main source of information is documents obtained by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Hague Tribunal as part of the investigation into Srebrenica. It is a military documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska, concretely for the Zvornik and Bratunac brigades, the Drina Corps, as well as documents from the main headquarters of the Army of Republika Srpska,” said Butler.

The trial is set to resume on November 14.

 

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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.

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.

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic

Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.

Ratko Mladic: From Promising Officer to Bloodstained Warlord

When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.

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