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Karadzic: “Closed Door” at Srebrenica

9. February 2011.00:00
A former commander of UN forces in Sarajevo testifies at the trial of Radovan Karadzic and says that UNPROFOR was not able to see what was happening in Srebrenica for days after the Serb forces had occupied the enclave.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Witness Rupert Smith confirmed that at a number of meetings held with war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic, former Commander of the Main Headquarters with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, he insisted that members of the Red Cross be given permission to access prisoners in Srebrenica.

“Mladic tried to argue that the Srebrenica issue had been completed in a correct fashion… At that time we still did not know what had happened to about 2,000 men. We heard that they had been transferred to the stadium in Bratunac.”He promised he would let the Red Cross see the prisoners, but he did not implement this in practice. I think that the Red Cross arrived in Bratunac at the end of July. They were shown empty buildings. Nobody saw any prisoners,” Smith said.

He confirmed that he remembered Mladic telling him at a meeting: “I am a war criminal, but you must talk to me…”.The witness said that UN forces approached Karadzic in August 1995, asking him to allow them to visit the area and try to find the missing persons.

The Prosecutor presented a document which indicates that Karadzic responded to the request about ten days later, saying he was “preoccupied with the crisis in Banja Luka and he will deal with the issue”.

Karadzic, the former President of Republika Sprska and supreme Commander of its armed forces, is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war.He is further charged with crimes committed with the aim of permanently removing Bosniak Muslims and Croats from territories controlled by Serbs, spreading terror among the civilian population in Sarajevo and eliminating Muslims from Srebrenica.

Testifying about the allegation that Serb forces blocked UNHCR convoys that brought humanitarian aid to Sarajevo citizens, Smith said that in his opinion, Mladic was “the right person” with whom those issues should have been negotiated.In addition, Smith spoke about the shelling of the Markale marketplace in August 1995, one of the counts in the indictment against Karadzic. Smith said that he “concluded” that the projectile had come from positions held by VRS.

“The examination of the crater indicated that the projectile had come from the south, but it did not reveal the exact location from which it was fired… The fact that nobody heard the sound of the grenade being fired was helpful for the analysis, because it meant it had been fired from a position outside the defended zone of Sarajevo,” Smith said.

Karadzic began cross-examining the witness at this hearing, and will continue on February 10.M.T.

This post is also available in: Bosnian