The report of the Srebrenica Armed Forces Command about the structure of their units in 1992 and 1993 was «a reflection of their wishes, not of the actual situation», as Naser Oric's defense witness testified

Naser Oric during the trial Naser Oric during the trial

There was no organized military structure of the Muslim forces in the Srebrenica area in 1992 and 1993, Nesib Buric claims, testifying as Naser Oric’s defense witness today.

Buric, a teacher now living in Tuzla, found himself in his home village of Osmace when the war broke out in 1992. He described in detail how from mid-April that year the “JNA distributed weapons” and recruited and trained Serb men of military age in the villages in the Srebrenica area.

As he testified, the conflict began with the murder of two Muslim youths in Vitez on 13 April 1992. Muslims started leaving, finding refuge in Slovenia or Germany and the Muslim villages remained in isolation because the communications were cut by armed Serbs patrolling the roads.

Buric claims he saw in Vitez on 14 April the body of one of the youths that had been killed and “30 to 50 Serbs in camouflage shirts undergoing military training” in the Jezero area. As he testified, Serb soldiers could be seen with the naked eye in the neighbouring village and similar training areas were located in few other villages.

On 7 and 8 May 1992, Serb forces attacked a number of Muslim villages in the Drina river basin, including Osmace. Other villages were destroyed, plundered and burned to the ground, while the remaining population was “killed”. His village was shelled, but, as he described, “the Serb troops did not enter the village.” The villagers returned to their destroyed homes and organized their defense, made up of “about fifty lads at the most, with a total of 21 rifles.”

Just as the previous defense witnesses, Buric claimed “with full responsibility” that those were not units of any sort, but “groups of villagers” who gathered some weapons and tried to defend their villages. He denied that those groups had any “commanders” or that they had any “uniforms, ranks, barracks or arms depots.”

The defense showed the witness a document from the Srebrenica Armed Forces Command, dated 19 September 1993, where the “structure of the armed forces in Srebrenica” is described. About 120 fighters from Osmace, according to this document, were organized in three companies, making up the Osmace Territorial Defense. The Territorial Defense was part of the structure of the BH Army.

Buric denied this strenuously, maintaining that those were “groups of volunteers that were not under anyone’s command”, people who had got together on their own initiative to defend their villages. The defense is challenging the authenticity of the documents the prosecution had admitted into evidence as official BH Army documents, claiming they are forgeries created by the Serb forces after their taking of Srebrenica in 1995.

"This is all fantasy, we probably all wished it had been true and we would have been all too happy had this been so in the field… but this is not even one percent accurate,” Nesib Buric said. His testimony will continue tomorrow.