WHO ARE TURKS FROM GORAZDE?
The prosecutor notes that the Bosnian Serb army aimed to expel the non-Serb population from Gorazde and tries to corroborate the claim by showing an order issued by witness Dragisa Masal on 11 April 1994. 'Keep pushing energetically onwards. The Turks must disappear from these areas', the witness quoted Mladic as saying. Masal explained that the term Turks was used for the enemy soldiers, never for Muslim civilians
Last week in the cross-examination the prosecutor showed a series of documents to prove the point that the artillery attacks launched by the Bosnian Serb army on the Gorazde protected zone resulted in the destruction of civilian areas and casualties among the Muslims. In the re-examination today, Ratko Mladic's defense strove to prove that it was all propaganda disseminated by the Bosnian side, whose aim was to make NATO launch air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army. Several documents in which the highest-ranking international representatives criticized the Muslim side for exaggerating the civilian casualties in Gorazde were admitted into evidence.
Masal said that the BH Army’s Operational Group in Gorazde was about 15,000 or 16,000 men strong: three times stronger that the Visegrad Tactical Group under his command in 1993 and 1994. According to the witness, Serb positions were regularly attacked from the enclave but the Serb response was never at a scale that would cause significant destruction or civilian casualties. The document the prosecutor presented last week showed that the witness personally issued orders to his troops to shell civilian areas in Gorazde including the town market. The defense countered the allegations by showing orders issued by both Mladic and Masal, in which they strictly forbid such attacks for long periods of time. The witness explained that the artillery attacks were discontinued because Serbs did not want to violate the cease fire and thus provoke NATO air strikes against Serb positions.
Last week, the prosecutor presented an order the witness issued on 11 April 1994, instructing his troopsto attack Gorazde. It is the prosecution case that the Bosnian Serb army wanted to capture the enclaves and to expel non-Serb locals. 'Keep pushing energetically onwards. The Turks must disappear from these areas', the witness quoted Mladic as saying. As he was questioned by defense counsel Ivetic, Masal explained today that the term ‘Turks’ was used for enemy soldiers and never ever for civilians. It meant that the goal was to expel the BH Army soldiers and thus allow the Serb civilians to return to Gorazde, the witness specified.
In an order issued on 21 February 1993, Masal instructs the subordinated brigades from the Podrinje area to inform him about any ‘detained Muslims from the Sandzak territory’. ‘If you don’t have them’, the witness stresses in the order, ‘arrest them immediately’. Seven days later, 19 civilians from Sandzak – 18 Bosniaks and a Croat – were taken off the Belgrade-Bar train in Strpci. The witness argued that the purpose of the order was to arrest soldiers, not civilians. Last week, Masal explained that he meant Muslims heading from Sandzak to Sarajevo and Gorazde. Now Masal clarified that the focus was on the soldiers from Sandzak who were leaving the area to join the BH Army. Presiding judge Orie noted that those men were still civilians if they only planned to join the army. They were not actually soldiers, the presiding judge emphasized. Masal replied that those civilians were already armed and trained in Sandzak and could rightly be regarded as soldiers.
Ratko Mladic’s defense case continued with the evidence of Vidoje Blagojevic, former commander of the VRS Bratunac Brigade. Blagojevic was sentenced to 15 years for aiding and abetting crimes in Srebrenica.
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