At the end of his evidence, General Manojlo Milovanovic said that when he and Ratko Mladic served in the VRS, Mladic was a ‘charismatic man, a giant with the heart of a dove’: he was ‘a strict and fair commander’ who ‘protected his subordinates’

Manojlo Milovanovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialManojlo Milovanovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

In the final part of his evidence, General Manojlo Milovanovic said that Ratko Mladic was a ‘charismatic man – a giant with the heart of a dove’. This means that Mladic did not ‘bear a grudge‘; he ‘was a strict and fair commander’ who ‘protected his subordinates’, Milovanovic explained. Milovanovic was the closest associate of the commander of the VRS Main Staff, who is now on trial for double genocide and other crimes committed under his command.

Defense counsel Branko Lukic reminded Milovanovic of Mladic’s ‘first encounter’ with genocide in May 1992, when he warned the Serb deputies at an Assembly session in Banja Luka that Republika Srpska ‘cannot be cleansed so that only Serbs would remain’. ‘That is genocide, people’, Mladic told the deputies. As far as Milovanovic knew, Mladic didn’t change this attitude during the war.

Milovanovic noted that he personally never heard Mladic ordering the torture or killing of civilians or of the captured enemy soldiers in Srebrenica – or anywhere else. But, Milovanovic was able to recall two exceptions. Milovanovic heard Mladic order his troops to shell Sarajevo to ‘roll out the Muslims’ minds’. Also, there was a ‘humorous conversation’ in which Mladic ordered the artillery chief Rajko Balac to ‘hit the Turks while there are still some left’.

Mladic’s defense had tried hard to highlight the differences between Karadzic’s notorious Directive 7 and Mladic’s version of the document, Directive 7/1. In the re-examination, prosecutor Groome stressed the links between the two documents. The prosecutor showed that Mladic made several references to Karadzic’s directive in his own document. Also, Mladic’s directive couldn’t be implemented ‘without reading’ Karadzic’s document. Milovanovic finally agreed with the allegation.

The prosecutor argued that Mladic’s directive didn’t ‘abolish’ Karadzic’s, as evidenced by VRS documents, such as the order issued by the Drina Corps commander Milenko Zivanovic a few months after the two directives. In his order, Zivanovic invoked both directives. According to the prosecutor, this shows that the people who implemented the two directives had to ‘read them side by side’. Milovanovic agreed, adding that Zivanovic ‘had to give priority to Mladic’s Directive 7/1’.

The famous Directive 7, signed by Karadzic on 8 March 1995, directed the troops to create ‘by planned and well-thought-out combat activities […] an unbearable situation of total insecurity, with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica and Zepa’. Four months later, in July 1995, the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa were ‘eliminated’. Tens of thousands of women and children were evacuated. The remains of more than 7,000 men have been exhumed from the mass graves in that area. The prosecution alleges that the victims were summarily executed after they were captured or surrendered.