Colonel Milenko Todorovic testified at the trial of Ratko Mladic about an order he received in July 1995, after the fall of Srebrenica, to relay a task to the Corps command to organize the accommodation for 1,000 to 1,200 prisoners in the Batkovic prison camp. The witness said that the order was issued ‘indirectly, within the limits of legality’, but the prisoners never arrived in Batkovic

Milenko Todorovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trialMilenko Todorovic, witness at the Ratko Mladic trial

The series of expert testimonies at the trial of Ratko Mladic was interrupted briefly for the court to hear the evidence of Milenko Todorovic. The former chief of security and intelligence in the East Bosnia Corps had given a statement to OTP investigators in 2010. This statement and the transcript of his testimony at the trial of Zdravko Tolimir in April 2011 were admitted into evidence as prosecution exhibits.

Immediately after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 Todorovic recounted how he received an order from the Main Staff, ‘most probably in a cable’ to relay a task to the Corps command: to prepare the accommodation for about 1,000 to 1,200 prisoners in the hangar in Batkovic. This, Todorovic explained, would allow the exchange of those prisoners for the captured VRS soldiers. The logistics unit was told to empty the hangar in Batkovic, to prepare everything so that the people could be billeted there, to connect the building to the water mains and to provide basic sanitation facilities. Todorovic assumed that the order originated from Zdravko Tolimir, the chief of security and intelligence in the VRS Main Staff.

The ‘general public’ knew about the arrival of the prisoners and so did the parents of the captured VRS fighters who ‘were waiting eagerly’ for the exchange, Todorovic said. Since the prisoners didn’t come, the families started to put pressure on the Corps command, prompting the Corps commander Novica Simic to order Todorovic to ask the ‘boss’ what was going on. Todorovic called Tolimir who told him that ‘it won’t happen, put a stop to the preparations’. In his statement to the OTP investigators Todorovic said that ‘talking to the people there’ he learned that the prisoners who were supposed to arrive in the Batkovic prison camp had been executed in Pilica.

The defense counsel argued that when General Tolimir sent the request to Todorovic asking him to convey the order to his superior commander Simic, he effectively bypassed the chain of command. The witness agreed with the defense counsel, but he denied that General Mladic issued any order to find accommodation for the prisoners. Todorovic did allow the possibility that ‘someone’, whose name he didn’t specify, may have relayed the order to the East Bosnia Corps ‘indirectly, within the limits of legality’.

Todorovic will continue his evidence tomorrow.