BRITISH GENERAL IN ‘MLADIC’S SHOES’
In the cross-examination, General Rupert Smith, former UNPROFOR commander in BH, said that he ‘understood Mladic’s actions’. He is testifying at the Srebrenica Seven trial
Rupert Smith, witness in the trial of the former Bosnian Serb leaders charged with crimses in Srebrenica and Zepa
General Radivoje Miletic’s defense put it to the witness that the BH authorities ‘initiated’ the exodus of the population from Srebrenica in July 1995 after the enclave fell.
Natasa Fauveau, Miletic’s lawyer, quoted from a report to the UN secretary general dated 11 July 1995, where UNHCR is stating that ‘almost all of the population in Srebrenica’ said they wanted to leave the enclave. ‘After consultations with the BH government’, the report went on, it was decided that the Bosnian Serbs would be asked to permit the evacuation, to be supervised by the UN troops.
In the opinion of General Smith, UNPROFOR commander in BH at the time, this document doesn’t show that the BH government ‘initiated’ the exodus of the Bosniaks from Srebrenica, although he agreed that it did clearly describe what was going on in the field.
The defense tried to paint the UNPROFOR’s assessment that ‘the enclaves are unsustainable’ quoted in the report of the Dutch Institute for War Documentation as an indicator that the VRS Srebrenica operation was justified. Miletic’s counsel confronted the witness with what he had said in the same report: ‘Srebrenica would have fallen sooner or later’.
General Smith said he couldn’t remember he had said that. He went on to say, ‘When I put myself in Mladic’s shoes, I could understand his acts and the reasons why he did what he did’. General Smith believes that he had said that in his interview with the Dutch Institute. He agreed that in a conversation with the US ambassador to BH in early 1995 he said that ‘he would take the enclaves if he were Mladic’, but with one correction. ‘I don’t believe I used the term “take”’, the British general said today, adding that he always used the term ‘push’. He believes he used it in that conversation too.
General Rupert Smith will be cross-examined by General Milan Gvero's defense tomorrow.
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