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29 April 2015

Mladic Witness: Bosniaks Targeted After Attacking Serbs

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
A former Bosnian Serb Army commander told Ratko Mladic’s trial that his units didn’t expel Bosniaks from the Podrinje region in 1992 and 1993, insisting that they only retaliated after enemy attacks.
On the second day of his testimony at Mladic’s war crimes trial in The Hague on Wednesday, Svetozar Andric, former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Birac Brigade, denied expelling Bosniak civilians from the Podrinje in eastern Bosnia.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Tieger quoted the Bosnian Serb Army’s Directive 4 from March 1993, in which "consistent and decisive attacks to expel the enemy with the local Muslim population" were ordered.

Andric responded that the only reason for the directive was "the extreme number of crimes against Serbs".

"In six months of 1992, 370 Serbs were killed and 33 villages robbed and burned," he said.

He said that by March 1993, 1,322 Serbs were killed in the Skelani and Bratunac areas alone.

Asked by the prosecutor whether his forces’ operation in Podrinje in 1993 was aimed at linking up Serbs in Bosnia and Serbia, Andric replied: "Not at all."

"The political leadership of the Birac region asked for this operation because of the genocide committed against Serbs in Vlasenica, Srebrenica and Zvornik. They asked Radovan Karadzic to do it, and he ordered the army," said Andric.

Former Bosnian Serb army commander Ratko Mladic is on trial for the persecution of Muslims and Croats across the country, which allegedly reached the scale of genocide in several municipalities. He is also on trial for genocide in Srebrenica, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

Andric also said that Mladic also ordered his forces not to enter Srebrenica in 1993, although it had almost fallen. He said that "thanks to Karadzic and Mladic, the Muslim population did not suffer".

He suggested that revenge was the only explanation for the mass killings of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995.

The trial continues on Thursday.
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