When the defense asked American intelligence officer Richard Butler if he had seen any orders issued by Ratko Mladic instructing his troops to commit crimes, Butler replied that in September 1995 the accused had ordered the delivery of five tons of fuel for the transfer of the bodies of the Srebrenica victims from the primary to secondary graves. The accused was back in court today, as he knew the cross-examination would have gone on in his absence

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

Yesterday, presiding judge Orie warned Ratko Mladic that his trial would continue with or without him. The accused duly appeared in court to hear the cross-examination of prosecution expert Richard Butler. The day before yesterday during a break General Mladic complained of fatigue; the medical staff advised that he be taken back to the Detention Unit. Yesterday he refused to appear in the dock, despite the fact that the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with him, deciding he was able to follow the trial. The Trial Chamber consequently warned Mladic that if he refused to appear in court again, his absence would be taken as the waiver of his right to attend the trial.

In the first part of the cross-examination of the American intelligence officer, defense counsel Dragan Ivetic made a series of objections to the methodology the expert used when he wrote the report on the VRS Srebrenica operation in July 1995 and the role Mladic and his subordinate officers played in the crimes. Butler dismissed the objections, noting that based on his inspection of a large number of military documents, intercepted conversations and witness statements he did his best to reconstruct the course of the events leading to the death of thousands of Srebrenica boys and men and ending in the expulsion of the rest of the inhabitants from Srebrenica.

As the defense noted, the witness was part of the prosecution team until 2003. Many documents came to light after his departure, including the materials from the Drina Corps. The expert did not have all those documents at his disposal when he wrote the first reports on Srebrenica for the previous trials. The American intelligence officer admitted that some of the documents were discovered later, but they did not contain anything that would ‘make me question my earlier findings’. In the revised reports he produced for the trials after 2003, Butler analyzed the new documents, but his previous reports ‘remain up-to-date and valid’ even without this analysis.

The defense counsel asked Butler if, in the course of his search through the documents he had found any orders in which Mladic instructed his subordinated to commit crimes. According to a document from September 1995, the accused ordered the delivery of five tons of fuel to the units involved in the cover-up of the crimes, the witness replied. The units dug up the bodies of executed Srebrenica men, and re-buried them in secondary mass graves. The witness admitted there were no orders of the accused to commit crimes, at least not in writing.

Richard Butler will continue his evidence tomorrow.

Ratko Mladic in the courtroom
Richard Butler, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial