THE ACCUSED "FOLLOWED THE ILL INTENTS" OF GENERAL MLADIC
During closing arguments at the trial of Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic, prosecutors claim to have proven beyond a reasonable doubt the responsibility of the two former Bosnian Serb Army officers for the Srebrenica massacre in the summer of 1995.
Vidoje Blagojevic, former commander of the VRS Bratunac Brigade, and Dragan Jokic, chief engineer of the VRS Zvornik brigade, not only knew of the executions in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995, but participated in them or aided and abetted in the commission of the crimes. So claims the prosecution during closing arguments at the trial of the two former VRS officers.
Prosecutor Peter McCloskey said the evidence adduced in the course of the trial, begun last May, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the two accused are indeed responsible. “The evidence stemming from the testimony of prosecution witnesses has been corroborated by defense witnesses – mostly those who directly carried out the orders issued by the accused," McCloskey stressed.
The prosecution claims that Jokic and Blagojevic are responsible for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws and customs of war; these are the legal qualifications of the crimes committed in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995, when more than 7,000 men were executed and more than 20,000 women and children were deported from the enclave.
The prosecution charges Vidoje Blagojevic with complicity in genocide, a charge prosecutor Milbert Shin said was also proven during trial. Defense claims that "the intent of the accused to destroy an ethnic or religious group in whole or in part has not been proven" are irrelevant, say prosecutors. In order to prove responsibility for complicity in genocide, the prosecution says, "it is not necessary to prove the intent of the accused but his knowledge of the genocidal intent" of those who planned and ordered the crime the accused participated in.
McCloskey countered defense suggestions made during trial that "Blagojevic had been trying to avoid General Mladic" by saying that "Colonel Blagojevic, as the commander of the Bratunac Brigade, was the third highest ranking person in the Srebrenica operation – right below General Ratko Mladic and Radislav Krstic." McCloskey further notes that a great deal of trust was placed in him, describing Mladic as a "psychopath killer" who "picked Colonel Blagojevic" as the commander of the Bratunac Brigade.
The prosecutor contends that Blagojevic "followed ill intents." He adds, "He may have been able to hide from Mladic, but not from his orders. He received and carried out those orders," McCloskey said.
The prosecution further contents that the participation of the two former VRS officers in the joint criminal enterprise has also been proven both because of their involvement in the execution of the common plan to forcibly remove the Muslim population from Srebrenica and because of the "unplanned consequences of the execution of the plan that the accused could have foreseen."
The defense for the two accused will present their closing arguments over the next two days.
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