Denying that the Serbian security forces were involved in the Kosovo crimes, retired general Djordje Curcin claimed that he and other VJ officers were given preventive training in international humanitarian law. According to Curcin, there’s nothing controversial in the fact that he regularly met with and supported one of the most wanted fugitives from international justice, Ratko Mladic

Djordje Curcin, defence witness of Vlastimir DjordjevicDjordje Curcin, defence witness of Vlastimir Djordjevic

In his evidence as Vlastimir Djordjevic’s defense witness, former operations officer in the VJ General Staff Djordje Curcin noted that in 1999 the army was determined to respect international humanitarian law. This prompted the prosecutor to remind Curcin what he had said about his connection with one of the most wanted fugitives from international justice. Prosecutor Petersen reminded the witness that last year at the trial of the former chief of the VJ General Staff Momcilo Perisic he had described in detail the numerous encounters he had had with the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic until 2002. Mladic is charged with genocide and other crimes in BH.

Curcin said he stood by what he had stated previously: he met Mladic in the JNA in Macedonia in the 1970s. As time went by, they became family friends. Curcin said he was seeing Mladic well after the Tribunal indicted him. The prosecution focused in particular on Curcin’s meetings with Mladic in military facilities in the Valjevo area. The witness repeated that he saw Mladic in 1997 when he was staying in various army hotels and ‘cottages’ in Rajac and Stragari. Today, the witness added that on one occasion he and the indicted general went to the Crvena Zvezda Stadium to watch a soccer match between Yugoslavia and Croatia.

Asked if he had helped Mladic to avoid arrest, the witness replied ‘No, I just made sure that no harm was done to him’. The witness then admitted that ‘harm’ could be taken to mean both Mladic’s arrest and transfer to the Tribunal. Curcic was questioned before a Belgrade court in the proceedings against Mladic’s helpers. Describing himself as a ‘serious man and a general’ Curcin said today that he would ‘never, under no circumstances’ report and hand over Ratko Mladic to the prosecution.

As the hearing continued the prosecution brought up the inconsistencies in Curcin’s evidence before the Tribunal. In 2007, at the Kosovo Six trial, Curcin tried to protect the former chief of the General Staff Ojdanic, saying that the police was not subordinated to the army, although the FRY president Milosevic had ordered the subordination to be carried out by mid-April 1999. Curcin was trying to exculpate the accused military generals of any crimes the police may have committed on Kosovo. Yesterday, Curcin argued that Milosevic’s order was implemented and the police was placed under the army command in some combat operations. Now Curcin is shifting the blame from the police and General Vlastimir Djordjevic on the army. The prosecutor briefly asked the witness if he remembered that in his previous evidence he had contended that the MUP was not subordinated to the army. When the witness confirmed this, the prosecutor dropped the subject.

General Djordjevic is charged with taking part in the joint criminal enterprise aimed at expelling Albanians; the army and the police perpetrated numerous crimes in the effort. The Trial Chamber already sentenced former federal deputy prime minister Sainovic, military generals Ojdanic, Pavkovic and Lazarevic and head of the Serbian MUP Staff for Kosovo Sreten Lukic to prison sentences ranging from 15 to 22 years for aiding and abetting that joint criminal enterprise.