PROSECUTION: ‘SREBRENICA SEVEN’ GUILT IS PROVEN
Today, the prosecution continued with its reply to the arguments presented by the defense of the seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers charged with genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa, reminding the court of the evidence that clearly point to the responsibility of the accused
Nelson Thayer, prosecutor in the trial of sevel military and police officials charged with genocide and other crimes in Zepa and Srebrenica
Replying to the arguments presented last week by the defense teams of the seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers charged with genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa, prosecutor Nelson Thayer quoted at length from the testimony of Manojlo Milovanovic, former chief of the VRS General Staff. In July 1995, at the time of the Srebrenica and Zepa operations, he was busy on the Drvar front and the accused Radivoje Miletic stood in for him.
According to Miletic, in that period he did not have the power to issue orders, yet Milovanovic contends that Miletic was ‘the soul of the VRS General Staff’, an officer of great influence. General Ratko Mladic often relied on his opinion. ‘I cannot imagine that someone would refuse to do what Miletic would ask’, the prosecutor quoted from Milovanovic’s evidence.
The prosecutor pointed to several conversations intercepted in July 1995, where Miletic issues orders to subordinate VRS officers and deals with the problem of lack of fuel for the buses used to transport the civilians out of Srebrenica. The prosecutor also reminded the Chamber of Miletic’s report to Radovan Karadzic, where he wrote about the Muslim men from Zepa who had swum across the Drina river, fleeing from the Serbian forces
The defense argued that the people forced to swim across the river were in fact soldiers and not civilians as alleged in the indictment. The prosecutor invoked the evidence of a survivor who claimed he was not a soldier, and General Rupert Smith’s testimony, where he stated that it was doubtful to what extent those men were capable of fighting because many of them were not armed.
Contrary to the defense argument, the prosecutor notes that there is clear evidence confirming that the accused Drago Nikolic was an ‘important link’ in the chain set up to transfer the men separated from the rest of the population at Potocari to Bratunac. From there, they were transported to a school in Orahovac, and then on to mass execution sites. The prosecutor reminded the court of the testimony of Nikolic’s driver, who confirmed that on 14 July 1995 he and Nikolic had waited by the Vidikovac hotel to meet the trucks loaded with prisoners. Some of the prisoners were then transferred to the school in Orahovac.
The same goes for Ljubisa Beara, former security chief in the VRS General Staff. In Bratunac on 13 July 1995, he ordered a protected prosecution witness to go to Glogova and dig pits ‘because there would be corpses’. We have indisputable evidence that Beara was in Zepa during the implementation of the operation together with Mladic and Krstic, the prosecutor added
At the end, the prosecutor briefly commented on the claim made by Ljubomir Borovcanin’s defense that the prosecution ‘failed to prove that the accused participated in the conspiracy to commit genocide’. Borovcanin’s policemen in Potocari separated men who were later killed, the prosecutor said. According to the prosecutor, the footage taken by Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac further points to Borovcanin’s involvement in the joint criminal enterprise. Pirocanac and the accused had ‘respect for each other’ which is why Borovcanin took Pirocanac with him to make a story. He never thought that Pirocanac could record material contrary to his interest. The fact that some of video material was ‘cut later on purpose’, the prosecutor said, corroborate this further.
The trial of Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Vinko Pandurevic, Drago Nikolic and Ljubomir Borovcanin will now be adjourned. The Trial Chamber will consider the arguments presented by the parties and decide whether the defense will have to answer to all or just some counts in the indictment.
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- 2008-06-02 DEFENSE: NO GENOCIDE IN SREBRENICA