HOW SREBRENICA OPERATION TURNED INTO A CRIME
Karadzic’s military expert Radovan Radinovic claims that the plan was for the Muslim prisoners to be taken to the Batkovic camp after Srebrenica was taken. Because soldiers had to be separated from civilians, the prisoners were ‘taken to temporary accommodation’ in facilities in the Zvornik area. From that point on, Radinovic said, the military operation ‘turned into a crime’. The prosecution on the other hand argued that the crime was planned in advance
In the expert report he wrote for Radovan Karadzic’s defense, military expert Radovan Radinovic stated that the events in the Srebrenica operation unfolded ‘not according to any plan’, with a number of ‘surprises’; the accused did not know what was happening. In the cross-examination, prosecutor Mitchell argued that all the events followed a plan that was masterminded by Karadzic.
According to Radinovic’s theory, the primary goal of the operation was to cut the Srebrenica enclave from the Zepa enclave; as the operation unfolded, it suddenly became clear that the enclaves could be captured. Karadzic allowed the troops to enter the enclaves, but he did not exercise operational control over them. The prosecutor brought up Karadzic’s Directive 7 from March 1995, where he orders the army to create conditions of ‘total insecurity without hope for further life or survival for the inhabitants’ by carrying out ‘planned and well-thought out combat operations’. Radinovic agreed that the order was ‘illegal’, but claimed that the controversial phrases were deleted from follow-up orders. When he was shown an order from the Drina Corps which simply copied Karadzic’s demand verbatim, Radinovic said he had never seen that document before.
Some speeches Karadzic made before the Assembly were also shown. In them he says that he ordered the attacks on Srebrenica and Zepa ‘in writing and orally’, and that he oversaw the implementation of the plan; in fact, he ordered the Drina Corps commander Radislav Krstic, ‘Enter Srebrenica and we’ll hunt the Turks down afterwards in the woods’. Radinovic said this was a propaganda effort, ‘a fiery speech’ which was in fact Karadzic’s showdown with Mladic in the Assembly. The prosecutor countered that this was more than mere propaganda, recalling that an officer from the Drina Corps, Milenko Lazic testified at the Srebrenica Seven trial that in June 1995 Karadzic and Krajisnik came to the Corps HQ and ordered Krstic to launch preparations for the Srebrenica operation as soon as possible. Radinovic maintained this was ‘just words without any operative force’.
The witness claims that after Srebrenica was captured, the plan was for the Muslim prisoners to be transferred to the Batkovic camp. The prosecutor put it to him that this would have required a lot of documents pertaining to the logistics of the move: preparing accommodation, providing food, water and other necessities for a large number of people. The reason why no such documents exist, as Radinovic said, was because Mladic’s troops were ‘caught by surprise’ because they had not expected the capture of so many prisoners. As a result, things were dealt with as they cropped up. When he was asked why the Muslim men and boys were not taken to Batkovic directly from Bratunac but were first detained in remote locations in Zvornik municipality, Radinovic said that soldiers were to be separated from civilians before their transfer to the camp. ‘Unfortunately, this was not done, and from that point on, the Srebrenica operation turned into a crime’.
Karadzic did not know about the crimes, Radinovic claims. The prosecution, on the other hand, argues that all those Karadzic met or spoke on the phone in those days knew all too well about what was going on: his civilian commissioner for Srebrenica, Miroslav Deronjic, the assistant police minister Tomislav Kovac and the army commander Ratko Mladic. When the prosecutor put this case to him, Radinovic stubbornly replied that the reports sent to Karadzic made no mention of the killing of prisoners. The prosecutor showed him stories published in the Independent which clearly show that its reporters knew, mere days after the massacre in Srebrenica, that this was the worst mass crime of the entire war. He asked the witness how the news could reach London, and fail to reach the man who, as the president of Republika Srpska, was in charge of the Bosnian Serb army, police and the civilian authorities. Radinovic replied, ‘Your people, that is, NATO, took aerial photographs of all that and were thus in a position to know more [than Karadzic]’. The prosecutor noted that Belgrade journalist Zoran Petrovic Pirocanac filmed the events in Srebrenica, as he was escorted around the area by police officers.
As the hearing drew to a close, Karadzic called his next witness, former VRS Birac Brigade commander, General Svetozar Andric.
- Case : Karadzic
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