VRS general Ljubomir Obradovic testifies at the trial of Radovan Karadzic about the structure and functioning of the VRS Main Staff. Obradovic confirmed that the former Republika Srpska president received reports from the corps level. The witness contends that he didn’t know anything about the huge number of Muslim prisoners after the fall of the Srebrenica enclave

Ljubomir Obradovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialLjubomir Obradovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

VRS general Ljubomir Obradovic testifies at the trial of former Republika Srpska president Radovan Karadzic. The prosecution called the former head of the Operations and Training Administration of the VRS Main Staff to give evidence about the structure and functioning of the VRS Main Staff.

The prosecution noted politicians, including Karadzic himself, were involved in making annual combat readiness analyses, side by side with the military officers. The witness confirmed this, saying tasks for the forthcoming period were defined at those meetings. These tasks were later incorporated into directives issued by the high-level commands. Those directives defined ‘guidelines for the preparation and implementation of combat operations in the forthcoming period’.

Prosecutor Carolyn Edgerton asked the witness if an analysis of combat readiness from the beginning of 1995 had anything to do with the adoption of the infamous Directive Seven. The witness confirmed that it was the case. The document from that meeting definitely contained ‘some tasks’ that are listed in the Directive Seven.

From September 1994, Obradovic was General Radivoj Miletic’s subordinate in the VRS Main Staff. In March 1995, Miletic drafted the Directive Seven and Karadzic signed it. The directive contains orders to ‘create unbearable conditions of life for the Muslim population’ in Srebrenica and Zepa in order to force them to leave the enclave.

Obradovic also confirmed that the reports sent by the corps to the Main Staff were summarized in the reports sent to the Republika Srpska president. The prosecutor brought up several reports of the Drina Corps from July 1995 which describe the course of the operation in the Srebrenica enclave, the routing of the enemy units and their capture.

The prosecutor also showed Obradovic a document written by Zdravko Tolimir on 25 July 1995, addressed to General Milan Gvero or Radivoj Miletic, about the exchange of prisoners. Tolimir says that the Serb side should demand the return of its captive soldiers and try to finalize the exchange by 27 July 1995. Tolimir also notes that State Prisoner Exchange Commission and the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps Commission ‘should be warned not to agree to any extensions to the deadlines, given that the Muslims might abuse the agreement under pressure from Sarajevo, as they have already attempted by raising the issue of the prisoners from Srebrenica’. When the prosecutor asked ‘what was the hurry’, the witness replied that he didn’t know because he had nothing to do with the prisoners of war.

The witness claimed that in July 1995 he didn’t know anything about the Muslim captives in the Srebrenica enclave. As he explained, when the operation started, he was on sick leave and did not return to duty until 17 July 1995. Obradovic worked in the Operations and Training Administration where reports from the corps level were processed and sent to the office of the president. Moreover, on 17 July 1995, Obradovic drove through the Srebrenica enclave on his way to the Main Staff. Yet Obradovic contended he didn’t have a clue about any prisoners of war. ‘At that time, I didn’t know about them, and as for what I learned later, this is different’, Obradovic said, adding that ‘I never did learn much’.

After Ljubomir Obradovic’s examination-in-chief was completed, the accused Karadzic began cross-examining the witness. Karadzic will complete Obradovic’s cross-examination tomorrow.