The prosecution and the defense disagree about the date and time when General Ratko Mladic returned to the Main Staff in Crna Rijeka from Belgrade as the VRS Srebrenica operation was in full swing. Was it on 16 or 17 July 1995?

Dragomir Keserovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialDragomir Keserovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

On the second day of the evidence of retired general Dragomir Keserovic, the prosecutor continued to ask the witness about the date when he returned to the Main Staff from the Western front and received from General Mladic the order to assume the command of the ‘operation to block and search the field’ in the Srebrenica area. In July 1995, Dragomir Keserovic was the commander of the military police in the VRS Main Staff.

Yesterday Keserovic stated he wasn’t sure if he had arrived in the Main Staff on 16 or 17 July 1995. Keserovic today told the prosecutor that it was on 16 July 1995 after all. However, when the prosecutor quoted from a statement Keserovic had given to the head of the Srebrenica investigation team, Jean Rene Ruez, in 2000, it transpired that Keserovic had told Ruez he had arrived in Crna Rijeka on 17 July 1995. Keserovic confirmed it.

The prosecution and the defense disagree over the date when Mladic returned to the Main Staff in Crna Rijeka from Belgrade where he had met with Slobodan Milosevic and attended a wedding. Judging by the number of additional questions the judges had, Keserovic’s testimony didn’t help much to establish the date with greater accuracy.

Today Keserovic confirmed that the next day, on 17 or 18 July 1995, he went to the Bratunac area. There Keserovic saw Zoran Malinic, the commander of the military police in the 65th Protection Regiment. Malinic told Keserovic that 2,500 to 3,000 soldiers from the BH Army’s 28th Division were captured in that region in the previous days. In his evidence at this trial last week Zoran Malinic stated there were 1,000 to 1,200 detained in the football field in Nova Kasaba.

Keserovic also confirmed today that he learned from Malinic about the lists of prisoners in Nova Kasaba being made and that General Mladic addressed the detainees. The prosecutor reminded him that in his evidence at the trial of Zdravko Tolimir in May 2011 he mentioned Malinic’s words that the effort to list the prisoners stopped when ‘Mladic said that it was not necessary because they would be transferred to Tuzla’.

Today Keserovic failed to specify on whose orders the prisoners from Nova Kasaba were transferred to Bratunac. This prompted the prosecutor to remind Keserovic that he stated in 2004, at Blagojevic’s trial, that Malinic told him then that General Mladic had ordered the transfer of the captives to Bratunac. ‘I may have had a better recall of the events at that time’, Keserovic replied, agreeing that his previous version of the events in Nova Kasaba might be more accurate.

In the cross-examination today, the defense tried to prove that on 16 July 1995 Mladic was still in Belgrade. Also, there was nothing unlawful in ordering the troops ‘to search the field’, the defense noted. According to the defense, there were no civilians among the prisoners Malinic had told Keserovic about: there were only soldiers of the BH Army’s 28th Division. The cross-examination continues tomorrow.