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Karadzic: Murders Were not Rumours

9. February 2012.00:00
Testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic at The Hague, former President of the Bratunac Town Government, Srbislav Davidovic says that he found out about the mass murder of Bosniaks in Kravica village on July 13, 1995 one day after it had happened, adding that two Serb officers asked him to provide loaders on that same day.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Davidovic explained that, in the morning on July 14, 1995 two directors of the Kravica Co-operative informed him that “Serb soldiers, who had done this, caused trouble for them”.

“They told me that several hundred people were killed and that the corpses were still there,” the witness said, adding that both he and those men were “shocked”.

As he said, Lieutenant-Colonel Ljubisa Beara took Davidovic to two other officers on that same day. The officers allegedly asked him to provide loading and digging machinery. The witness said that he supposed that those construction machines would be used for removing the bodies from the Co-operative in Kravica.

At that time Beara was Security Officer with the Main Headquarters of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS. In 2010 the Tribunal passed down a first instance verdict, sentencing him to life imprisonment for genocide in Srebrenica.

According to the charges against Karadzic related to genocide against 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica in the days that followed the occupation of Srebrenica by the VRS on July 11, 1995, Serb forces killed about 1,000 prisoners in the warehouse of the Kravica Co-operative.

In addition, Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, RS is indicted for persecuting Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorising civilians in Sarajevo by a long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking United Nations, UN soldiers hostage in the period from 1992 to 1995.

Davidovic said that he saw buses with captured Srebrenica men in Bratunac on July 12, 1995. As he said, the buses left the town on the following morning. While he was giving water to the prisoners, a policeman told him that they would be taken to Batkovic in order to be exchanged. Several dead bodies were found in the school classrooms following the departure of the prisoners.

However, the witness said that, about ten days later he heard about the mass murders of Bosniaks at several locations between Bratunac and Zvornik.

Speaking about a meeting he attended in Fontana Hotel in Bratunac in the morning on July 12, 1995, Davidovic confirmed that VRS Commander Ratko Mladic told representatives of Bosniaks from Srebrenica that they “could either survive or disappear”, adding that they decided, on their own, to leave Srebrenica.

Mladic is awaiting his trial, before the Hague Tribunal, for genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina to begin.

During the course of cross-examination Karadzic asked the witness if he believed “the rumours” about the mass murder of Bosniaks from Srebrenica.

“Unfortunately, I did, because I heard that from VRS members. They would not have spread rumours. It really happened. They mentioned Kozluk, Celopek and Pilica,” Davidovic said.

When asked if he “ever noticed that Serb officials had an intention to deport or exterminate Muslims”, the witness answered negatively. He also said that, following the meeting between Mladic and Bosniak representatives, he believed that the evacuation would be completed in good order, but “the reality was different”.

Karadzic said that the massacre in Kravica was not “planned”, but it was provoked after a prisoner confiscated a gun from a Serb policeman and killed him. Confirming that he heard about it, the witness said that he would never understand why it had happened.

Responding to indictee’s allegations, Davidovic said that, during the meeting held on July 12, general Mladic “offered” Bosniaks “to stay, giving them guarantees that they would be safe in case they handed their arms over and provided that all criminals would be processed”.

“Muslims strictly said that they wanted to leave,” the witness said. He told the Court that, acting on Mladic’s orders, he then took a certain, albeit insufficient, quantity of water and food to thousands of Bosniaks in Potocari.

When asked by Karadzic if “a danger of personal revenge” against Bosniaks existed in Potocari, Davidovic responded negatively, explaining that he did not know the Serb soldiers, as they were not from Bratunac.

Following Davidovic, witness Milenko Katanic began testifying at this hearing. His testimony is due to continue on February 10.R.M.

This post is also available in: Bosnian