ARE MUJAHIDEEN CRIMES RELEVANT FOR MLADIC’S TRIAL?
In the final part of Miodrag Dragutinovic’s testimony, the prosecutor highlighted the evidence that Ratko Mladic had returned to the VRS Main Staff from Belgrade in the evening of 16 July 1995. The defense alleges that Mladic came back on 17 July 1995. In the first part of Goran Krcmar’s evidence the defense played excerpts from a movie Ljubi brata about the crimes of the El Mujaheed unit against captured Serb soldiers
The cross-examination of Mladic’s defense witness Miodrag Dragutinovic, former assistant to the chief of staff of the Zvornik Brigade, continued today. The prosecutor presented several documents showing that on 16 July 1995, the units in the areas of responsibility of the Birac and Zvornik Brigade were prohibited from firing on aircraft in their airspace until 2200 hours.
As the prosecutor alleged, this shows that Mladic returned by helicopter in the evening of 16 July 1995 from Belgrade. Mladic had gone to Belgrade on 14 July 1995 to meet Slobodan Milosevic, to visit the Military Medical Academy and to attend a wedding. The defense contends that Mladic returned to the Main Staff the next day, on 17 July 1995. UNPROFOR helicopters often flew over that area and that was the reason why units were prohibited from firing on aircraft on 16 July 1995, the defense argued.
Goran Krcmar, a member of the Commission for Exchange of Prisoners in the VRS 1st Krajina Corps, was the next defense witness. In the statement to the defense Krcmar said that during the war they didn’t have enough prisoners of war to exchange because the ‘VRS conducted defensive operations and didn’t have the opportunity to capture enough enemy soldiers’. Krcmar made a series of accusations against the ‘Muslim side’. According to him, the Muslims exaggerated the number of victims.
Defense counsel Branko Lukic played excerpts from the movie Ljubi brata about the crimes of the El Mujaheed unit against captured Serb soldiers. Several former prisoners held by the Mujahideen appeared in the film, as well as witness Goran Krcmar. In the movie Krcmar spoke about the exchanged and missing Serb soldiers. As of today, 460 Serb soldiers remain on the missing list.
After a few segments, the judges asked about the relevance of the evidence on the Mujahideen crimes for the case against Ratko Mladic. The prosecution does not contest the fact that all sides in the Bosnian war committed grave crimes and atrocities, the judges added. If that is not controversial, the judges could not understand why the defense should spend valuable court time to call evidence that does not pertain to the substance of the case against Mladic.
As defense counsel Lukic said, the defense intends to show that the ‘Bosniak side’ is refusing to cooperate with the Serbs in the efforts to find the missing Serbs and is ‘exaggerating’ the figures for the missing and killed Muslim victims. Lukic noted that the prosecution has shifted the burden of proof as to the number of persons killed in Srebrenica in July 1995 on the defense.
The judges are not interested in the issue of the cooperation between the institutions in Republika Srpska and the Federation because it is irrelevant for Mladic’s case. As Judge Orie stressed, it is not true that the burden of proof about the number of Srebrenica victims was shifted on the defense. The Trial Chamber relies solely on the reports on the number of identified victims exhumed from the mass graves and on witness testimonies. The defense’s only burden is to refute the evidence called by the prosecutor.
Goran Krcmar will continue his evidence on Monday, 2 March 2015.
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