Ratko Mladic’s defense counsel put it to the witness that the UN Dutch Battalion changed the mandate in July 1995 and started a war against the VRS. Witness Evert Rave replied that the blue helmets had been ‘attacked as if they were at war’ and tried to defend themselves and the civilian population in the enclave as best they could

Evert Albert Rave, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialEvert Albert Rave, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

Dutch officer Evert Albert Rave testified at the trial of Ratko Mladic today. From January to July 1995, Rave served in the UN peace-keeping force in the Srebrenica enclave. As a field security advisor in the UN Dutch Battalion command, Rave attended the meetings with Mladic in the Fontana Hotel in Bratunac in the evening of 11 July 1995.

Rave’s testimony dovetails with Colonel Pieter Boering’s evidence last week. Boering also spoke about Mladic’s threatening attitude in the Fontana Hotel. Mladic warned that he would shell the Dutch base and ‘kill Dutch hostages’ if air strikes on Serb positions continued. In his statement to the prosecution, Rave said that he thought they would be ‘taken out and executed’. After the initial tension, Rave realized that Mladic’s troops’ real target were the Muslims, not the ‘blue helmets’.

On 12 July 1995, Rave saw men being separated from women and children in Potocari. He heard the shots that followed after the triage. He also confirmed that Mladic was in Potocari and that the refugees were given some food, but only while the cameras rolled.

In the cross-examination, lawyer Branko Lukic noted that the BH Army and UNPROFOR started ‘negotiating’ how to fight together against the VRS on the last day of May 1995. That day, Naser Oric ordered the chief of staff of the 28th Division Ramiz Becirevic to test the Dutch to see ‘if they have really decided to shoot at Chetniks’. The witness said that the ‘game’ had in fact started in January 1995. The BH Army tried to figure out how UNPROFOR would react if the Bosnian Serbs attacked.

The defense counsel also put it to the witness that the so-called ‘green order’ issued by Robert Franken, who was the deputy commander of the UN Dutch Battalion, changed the ‘blue helmets’ mandate. Quoting from Franken’s testimony at the trial of Zdravko Tolimir, the defense counsel implied that by issuing that order UNPROFOR in effect came to be at ‘war against the VRS’. The witness replied that the order was issued to protect both the Dutch Battalion and the civilians from the enclave. ‘The blue helmets were under attack, it was as if they were at war and they tried to defend themselves by any means available to them, and there wasn’t much. The state of war was not declared, we just found ourselves in this situation’, the witness said. Rave’s cross-examination continues tomorrow.