The trial of Zdravko Tolimir, Mladic’s former assistant for security in the VRS Main Staff, ended today with the closing arguments by the parties. The judgment on the indictment charging Tolimir with genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa may be expected by the end of the year

Zdravko Tolimir in the courtroomZdravko Tolimir in the courtroom

At the end of his closing argument, Zdravko Tolimir asked the judges to acquit him, since the prosecution, as he said, had failed to prove any of the charges of genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa in 1995 against him.

‘The prosecution has based its case on presumptions’, Tolimir said, and these presumptions are in turn based on the fact that when the crimes were committed, he, Tolimir, held a high-ranking post in the VRS as Mladic’s assistant for security and intelligence, and on the erroneous claim ‘which cannot be proven’ that in the summer of 1995, Mladic and Karadzic ordered him to kill all men of military age captured after the fall of Srebrenica.

Again, Tolimir said there was no evidence that Mladic and Karadzic had ever issued such an order to him, stressing that ‘what did not happen cannot be proven, either on Earth or in Heaven, before earthly or heavenly courts’.

In a brief rebuttal of the arguments put forward by the accused, the prosecutor challenged Tolimir’s claims that he had not been able to exercise control over his subordinate officers in the security and intelligence department, from the VRS Main Staff level down to the brigades, because he did not have the power to issue orders to them. As an expert officer Tolimir was obliged to supervise the compliance of his subordinates with the orders, regardless of who issued them, the prosecutor argued, quoting from the VRS service manual.

In rebuttal, Tolimir again maintained he was not under any obligation to monitor the doings of his subordinate officers, many of whom have been convicted of the Srebrenica crimes either in The Hague or in Sarajevo. He claims he was unable to do it because he was in Zepa at the relevant times, at a forward command post, and could not get in touch with the Main Staff and his subordinate officers.

At the end, Tolimir yet again took his leave of the parties by wishing ‘God’s blessing’ upon them and expressing his hope that the trial would be concluded ‘in line with God’s will and providence’.

As he brought the hearing to a close, German judge Christoph Flügge, who is the presiding judge in the Chamber that includes judges Prisca Nyambe, of Zambia, and Antoine Mindua, of Congo, indicated that the judgment in the Tolimir case might be delivered by the end of this year.