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6 September 2013
News

Crimes Could not Have Been Committed without Mladic

Radoša Milutinović BIRN BiH Haag

By presenting a series of intercepted conversations between Republika Srpska Army, VRS, officers at Ratko Mladic’s trial during the testimony by military expert Richard Butler, the Hague International Tribunal’s Prosecution tries to prove that the execution of thousands of Srebrenica Muslims in July 1995 was an operation ordered and conducted by the top leadership of that Army.

Mladic, the then Commander of VRS, is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Muslims from Srebrenica in the days that followed the occupation of the United Nations, UN, enclave by that Army on July 11, 1995.
 
One of the pieces of evidence presented by Prosecutor Peter McCloskey was an intercepted conversation conducted on July 15 during which Ljubisa Beara, Security Officer of the VRS’ Main Headquarters, requested his interlocutor to send manpower reinforcement, because he “had to deliver 3,500 more parcels”.
 
Butler, who said that colonel Beara was “the key and central” person in the organisation of the systematic shooting of Muslims, said that, according to his interpretation, “the parcels” referred to captives from Srebrenica.
 
“At that moment colonel Beara believed that there were 3,500 more captives with whom he had to deal, which meant he had to execute them, and that he did not have the capacity to undertake the executions,” Butler commented.
 
The Prosecution’s expert said that, according to available evidence, Beara’s estimate of the remaining captives was exaggerated, considering the fact that, by that time, more than 4,000 had already been killed, while 2,500 more Srebrenica Muslims still waited to be executed.
 
Butler said that the complete evidence material indicated that the order for the shooting of captives must have been issued by general Mladic.
 
During the course of Butler’s testimony the Prosecutor quoted an intercepted conversation conducted on July 16, 1995, in which lieutenant colonel Vujadin Popovic, Security Officer of the Drina Corps of VRS, requested fuel needed for the "finalisation of the job” in the Zvornik surroundings.
 
Butler said that the term “job” meant the shooting of more than 1,000 captives on Branjevo military farm and 500 more in Pilica village, where lieutenant colonel Popovic was present.
 
During another conversation conducted a bit later Popovic informed his interlocutor that “the job has been finished”.
 
In 2010 the Hague Tribunal sentenced colonel Beara and lieutenant colonel Popovic to life imprisonment for genocide in Srebrenica. They appealed the verdict, but the Tribunal has still not made a decision concerning the appeals.
 
Butler concluded that Beara, Popovic and other VRS officers, who were involved in those crimes, could not have done that without permission from the military top, in other words General Mladic. 


Mladic is also charged with the persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, terror against civilians in Sarajevo by long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking UNPROFOR members hostage. 
 
The Prosecution is due to complete the examination of the military expert on Monday, September 9.







 


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