The prosecution in the case of the former Herceg Bosna leaders filed a motion to tender relevant parts of General Ratko Mladic’s ‘war diaries’ into evidence. The prosecution claims the diaries corroborate the allegations in the indictment on the joint criminal enterprise to annex parts of BH to neighboring Croatia

Jadranko Prlic and Bruno Stojic in the front row and Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic in the back rowJadranko Prlic and Bruno Stojic in the front row and Slobodan Praljak, Milivoj Petkovic, Valentin Coric and Berislav Pusic in the back row

The prosecution has asked that some 15 excerpts from Mladic’s war diaries be admitted into evidence. They deal with the meetings between the Bosnian Serb political and military leadership and Jadranko Prlic, Slobodan Praljak, Bruno Stojic and Milivoj Petkovic, from October 1992 to February 1994. The prosecution alleges that the notes show that the Croatian and Herceg Bosna leadership engaged in ‘secret negotiations’ with the highest ranking representatives of Serbia and Republika Srpska.

The prosecution quoted Mladic’s entry from a meeting with the delegations from Croatia and Herceg Bosna in Pecs on 5 October 1992. ‘The goal is the Banovina of 1939; if not, we’ll continue the war’, Praljak said at the meeting. ‘The agreement between Tudjman and Izetbegovic does not contain anything – it is formal and has been made at the insistence of the Americans,’ he added.

At the same meeting, Praljak said that ‘the Muslims do not have any ammunition and we are not going to give them any’. ‘The war will end through an agreement between Croats and Serbs’, Praljak added. ‘We shall not permit anything to pass for the Muslims,’ Stojic is quoted as saying. In his diary, Mladic says an agreement was reached with the Croats to cease fire and to repair the hydroelectric power plant in Jajce. Colonel Tolimir ‘reported that the Croats by the lake (Jajce) are advocating the idea that we fire on the Muslims together’.

The prosecution contends that the entries indicate the Croatian leadership had ambitions to restore the state within borders of the Croatian Banovina as it was in 1939, that they pursued the two track policy vis-à-vis the Muslims and cooperated with the Serbs against the BH Army. The fact that the Bosnian Croats worked with the Bosnian Serb army, which by October 1992 had already perpetrated large-scale crimes, shows that the Bosnian Croat leaders were prepared to commit crimes to establish Herceg Bosna, the prosecution contends.

Noting that the Croatian president Franjo Tudjman discussed the division of BH with the highest-ranking representatives of the rump Yugoslavia, the prosecution quoted an entry from a meeting with Dobrica Cosic on 21 October 1992. ‘Tudjman and I agreed on the division, Vance and Owen rejected it’, Cosic said unequivocally, adding that he told Tudjman ‘he should not bring his troops and not threaten Eastern Herzegovina’. At the time, Eastern Herzegovina was under Bosnian Serb control.

‘We’re on a good path to compel Alija to divide Bosnia’, Mladic quoted Praljak’s words at a meeting in Njivice on 26 October 1992. ‘It is in our interest that the Muslims get their own canton so they have somewhere to move to’, Praljak went on to say. The prosecution alleges that those words confirm the desire to remove Muslims from parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina Croats claimed as their own and to establish Croatia’s borders in BH in order to form a Greater Croatia. ‘The Croatian state borders are obvious, but in BH they are yet to be established’, Praljak said. The prosecution claims this quote illustrates the point.

Mladic went on to note that at a meeting attended by Tudjman, Boban, Karadzic, Owen and others in Geneva on 4 January 1993, Izetbegovic said he was ready to accept the agreed principles of the peace plan, but not the proposed map. Owen then told Tudjman ‘one cannot count on having a state within a state’. Nevertheless, some days later Croats issued an ultimatum to the BH Army to force them to accept the agreement they didn’t want. At a later meeting on 23 January 1993, Izetbegovic repeated: ‘We didn’t approve the map either then or now, we had 5 objections…’. The prosecution maintains that this confirms that Izetbegovic didn’t accept Vance-Owen’s plan of January 1993 and that the warring sides knew it.

The entries from Mladic’s diaries corroborate the contents in some documents that are already in evidence as prosecution exhibits, including the correspondence between Milivoj Petkovic and Ivica Rajic about the contacts between the HVO and the ‘XY’ side, i.e., Bosnian Serbs. There are also documents about the HVO’s debt to the VRS reaching DEM 5,7 million and meetings at which purchase of ammunition was arranged.

According to Mladic’s notes, on 8 July 1993 Karadzic said to his generals: ‘Help the Croats in order to force the Muslims to agree on a division of Bosnia’. Mladic also claimed that Milosevic offered to hand the Muslims over to Tudjman but Tudjman didn’t want them. ‘Tudjman said, you take them’, Mladic quoted Milosevic as saying.

The diaries also contain an entry from a meeting between Petkovic and Mladic in Njivice on 8 July 1993. The commanders of the HVO and the VRS negotiated their joint combat operations against the BH Army in Mostar. ‘I would like first to defend Fojnica, Kresevo and Kiseljak and to link up with Busovaca’, Petkovic told Mladic.

At a meeting with Karadzic, Mladic and Krajisnik on 3 February 1994, Mate Boban said that “the most important task was to destroy the legitimacy of BH”. ‘We said long ago how to stop the war, to stop giving the humanitarian aid to Muslims, because begluk (feudal tax revenue) is their way of life’, Boban remarked. ‘Muslims are the common enemy. There are two or three ways to keep them down, first militarily by breaking their backbone… and secondly, to destroy the legitimacy of BH because the world has recognized Izetbegovic and his government’, Jadranko Prlic added.

At their trial for their alleged role in the joint criminal enterprise headed by Franjo Tudjman, the former Herceg Bosna leaders categorically rejected the prosecution’s allegations that there was a secret agreement with Serbs to divide BH. On the contrary, Praljak claimed that the HVO had defended the Bosnian Muslims and BH.