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10 December 2013
News

Clarifying Jurisdiction of Courts-Martial

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH Haag

The Defence of Ratko Mladic denies findings by the Prosecution’s military expert Reynaud Theunens, who said that, in his capacity as Commander of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, the indictee did not initiate any investigations into war crimes.

During the cross-examination Mladic’s Defence attorney Dejan Ivetic asked Theunens if courts-martial and prosecutions were under the responsibility of the VRS’ Main Headquarters, which was commanded by general Mladic.
 
The witness said that he had come across a document, according to which military judiciary was subordinate to Radovan Karadzic, Supreme Commander of Republika Srpska, RS armed forces.
 
Theunens responded negatively, when asked whether the indictee was in charge of appointing and promoting military judges and prosecutors.
 
Trying to prove his allegation that Mladic did not have the powers to remove paramilitary forces, whose members committed war crimes, Ivetic presented a document, indicating that the VRS Commander requested Karadzic and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of RS to withdraw Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan’s unit, whose members had killed “loyal Muslims”, from Sanski Most in the autumn of 1995.
 
However, the Prosecution’s military expert did not accept the suggestion, pointing out that “a commander is responsible for all units within his zone of responsibility”.
 
Theunens gave the same answer, when asked about Mladic’s command and control over the Special Police Brigade of RS, whose members, according to the charges and previous verdicts, committed a massacre against 1,000 Muslims in Kravica village, near Bratunac two days after the fall of Srebrenica.
 
Mladic is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica, persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
 
Presenting some documents, the Defence suggested that Mladic did not have full control over artillery activities in the Sarajevo surroundings.
 
Theunens said that the indictee suspected that Dragomir Milosevic, Commander of the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps, was receiving orders from supreme Commander Radovan Karadzic too and that he tried to “correct that”. However, the expert pointed out that he had not seen evidence that Mladic did not have command and control over his units.  
 
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Milosevic to 29 years in prison for crimes in Sarajevo.
 
The Prosecutors are due to conduct an additional examination of Theunens, their last witness, on Thursday, December 12. 

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