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23 May 2013
News

A Pile of Killed People in Kravica

Radoša Milutinović BIRN BiH Haag
An “insider”, who personally saw the murder of Muslims from Srebrenica and the burial of hundreds of bodies in the Bratunac surroundings in July 1995, testifies against Ratko Mladic, former Commander of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, at The Hague.

Protected witness RM-306described that he saw the murder of five Muslim captives in front of the Agricultural Co-operative in Kravica village on July 13, 1995, adding that many dead bodies could be seen in the vicinity of that location.

“Besides those five whom I saw, a man in green camouflage uniform killed those five people whose bodies were on the ground… on the grass… there was another pile of killed people…According to my estimates, between 40 and 50 people were there,” the witness said.

The indictment, which charges general Mladic (70) with genocide against about 7,000 Muslims from Srebrenica, alleges that Serb forces killed about 1,000 Muslim men in aware house in Kravica. It further alleges that this was the first in a series of mass murders of captives.

RM-306 said that “all bodies were transported” from Kravica “to Glogova and buried in a previously dug grave”. The witness said that Lieutenant Colonel Ljubisa Beara, the then Chief for Security of the VRS Main Headquarters, ordered him to dig four big graves. The content of witness’ testimony implies that he was a member of the Civil Protection Unit.

As the witness said,lieutenant colonel Beara announced to him that “there would be many dead bodies”, but he did not specify where the bodies would be brought from. AfterRM-306 had carried out Beara’s order, between “400 and 500 bodies” were brought to Glogova by truck and buried in the previously dug graves in the presence of the witness.

The witness said that he believed that “many more” bodies were buried in the four graves, when he was not present in Glogova.

In 2010 The Hague Tribunal said that Lieutenant Colonel Beara was one of the key organisers of genocide in Srebrenica and sentenced him, under a first instance verdict, to life imprisonment.

During the cross-examination Mladic’s Defence attorney Dragan Ivetic suggested that the burial of bodies in Glogova was a legal “terrain cleaning” activity for which the Civil Protection Unit was responsible, according to the law. The witness answered affirmatively.

Responding to questions by the Defence attorney, the witness confirmed that he visited the graves in Glogova along with Jean-Rene Ruez, Chief Hague Prosecution Investigator, after the Bosnian war and that the graves were empty. The witness said that, on that occasion Ruez told him that the bodies were “stolen by (VRS officer) Momir Nikolic, who had hidden them at another location”.

The then major Nikolic,Security Officer of the Bratunac Brigade of VRS, admitted guilt for crimes in Srebrenica before the Hague Tribunal in 2003. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

After that Nikolic testified against several indictees, who were charged with genocide in Srebrenica. It is expected that he will testify against Mladic as well.

In his guilt admission statement and subsequent testimonies Nikolic said that he participated in there location of bodies of Srebrenica Muslims from primary to secondary graves to which the VRS resorted in the fall of 1995 with the aim of concealing the traces of mass murders.

The indictment also charges Mladic with persecuting Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo by long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

The trial of Mladic is due to continue on May 24.

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