In his evidence in Ratko Mladic’s defense, General Bosko Kelecevic admits that the goal of the Bosnian Serb military and political leadership, to separate Serb territories from the other two ethnic communities in BH, was accomplished by the commission of the gravest crimes against the Muslim and Croat civilians. Kelecevic then corrected his testimony, saying that Mladic’s army protected ‘honest people from other ethnic groups’, those who ‘implemented the tasks envisaged by the Serb people’s idea of co-existence’

Bosko Kelecevic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialBosko Kelecevic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In the final part of General Bosko Kelecevic’s cross-examination, prosecutor Traldi focused on the evidence about the crimes in Prijedor, Sanski Most, Kljuc and Kotor Varos. The four municipalities were under the control of VRS 1st Krajina Corps where Kelecevic was the chief of staff. As alleged in the indictment against Ratko Mladic, the persecution of the non-Serbs in those four municipalities in 1992 reached the scale of genocide. The witness for the most part did not deny that the large-scale crimes did happen but strove to exonerate General Mladic and his troops by shifting the blame on the police and civilian authorities.

Yesterday Kelecevic admitted that non-Serb civilians in Prijedor were killed en masse, and that others were detained in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje prison camps. Today the prosecutor put it to the witness that in August 1992 the prisoners detained in those prison camps were transported to the military prison camp Manjaca near Prijedor. The witness didn’t deny the allegation. Asked if he knew that some people were killed en route to Manjaca, the witness admitted that there were such incidents. Kelecevic blamed the police because they were providing security for the convoys. When the first truck with the dead detainees arrived in Manjaca, the camp commander refused to take receipt of them saying that ‘only living, healthy people’ could enter the prison camp, Kelecevic recounted.

During the hearing yesterday Kelecevic was asked about the massacre of 80 Muslims in a school in Velagici near Kljuc. Today, the focus was on the killing of about 150 Muslims from the village of Vecici. The Muslims were taken to a school in Grabovica near Kotor Varos. Before their arrest, there was a meeting of the Kotor Varos war presidency on 2 November 1992. Ratko Mladic ordered that ‘no one should be allowed to get out of Vecici before surrendering their weapons unconditionally’, it was said at the meeting. The prosecutor asked the witness if he agreed that Mladic had controlled the disarmament operation in Vecici. ‘I can agree with that, but I cannot say that it had happened that way’, Kelecevic replied.

The prosecutor showed a document from the Sanski Most municipality stating that in 1991 there were 25,000 Serbs, 28,000 Muslims and about 4,000 Croats in the town. In 1993, the number of Serbs rose to 28,000 while only about 4,000 Muslims and about 1,000 Croats remained. In other words, the prosecutor noted, about 25,000 non-Serbs had left Sanski Most. Kelecevic replied that he didn’t know the exact figures but he admitted that many non-Serbs had left after crimes had been committed against civilians and after their property had been destroyed.

At the end of the cross-examination, the prosecutor put it to the witness that the actions of the 1st Krajina Corps and other Bosnian Serb military units, which included detention, abuse and killing of non-Serb civilians and the destruction of their property and religious buildings were in fact methods used to implement the Serbs' goal which was to separate Serbs from the other two ethnic communities in BH and to create a Serb state. Rather unexpectedly, the witness agreed with the prosecutor’s suggestion, prompting the defense to react in the re-examination. Defense counsel Lukic brought up a document Mladic wrote in May 1992, in which he states that the Army’s goal was to protect Serbs and ‘honest people from other ethnic groups’. Kelecevic was asked to explain who those ‘honest people’ were. ‘All those who implemented the tasks envisaged by the Serb people’s idea of co-existence’, General Kelecevic said. The re-examination will continue tomorrow.