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Karadzic: President not Informed about Crimes

24. February 2012.00:00
As his trial before The Hague Tribunal continues, indictee Radovan Karadzic suggests that he did not know about crimes committed against Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995, saying that reports, which he received from the Main Headquarters of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, did not contain any potentially “alarming” facts.

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Karadzic, who was President of RS and supreme Commander of VRS at that time, is on trial before The Hague Tribunal for genocide against more than 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica and persecution of tens of thousands of women and children following the occupation of the UN-protected enclave by the VRS on July 11, 1995.

When asked by Karadzic if the Main Headquarters “received any field reports about crimes”, retired general Ljubomir Obradovic, the then Chief of the Operational Section with the Main Headquarters of VRS, said that, as far as he knew, no such reports existed.

Obradovic gave the same answer, when asked by the indictee if the Main Headquarters submitted reports about crimes to the RS Presidency.

Citing, in detail, VRS reports on the operations conducted by the Drina Corps during and after the occupation of Srebrenica, the indictee said and the witness confirmed that those documents did not contain any pieces of information that would prompt his associates to “alarm the President”.

When presiding judge O-Gon Kwon asked if the occupation of a UN-protected zone was not sufficiently “alarming”, Karadzic said that he was informed about the possibility by General Zdravko Tolimir on July 9, 1995 and that he gave his approval to the VRS to enter Srebrenica.

However, he pointed out that the Serbian Army had the right to do it, because the enclave “was not demilitarised”, as foreseen under an earlier agreement with Sarajevo authorities and UNPROFOR.

Tolimir, former Assistant for Intelligence and Security Affairs with the Main Headquarters, is on trial before The Hague Tribunal for genocide in Srebrenica.

General Obradovic said that an ABiH division was present in Srebrenica and that it “constantly attacked” Serbian positions and villages.

“Therefore, we had the right to neutralise them,” the witness said.

Karadzic mentioned a report dated July 12, 1995, which says that “a part of the Drina Corps units and police are undertaking actions with the aim of destroying Muslim extremists, who have not surrendered, but are trying to break through” to Tuzla, as evidence that “the VRS did not target civilians”.

“Does the report mention that the population should be deported or forcible relocated,” the indictee asked. The witness responded by saying that the report “mentioned transportation”.

Responding to Karadzic’s suggestions, Obradovic said that the Main Headquarters did not hold any discussions about deportation or murder of Bosniaks from Srebrenica.

Commenting the Directive No. 7, which he signed in March 1995, ordering the Army to make the living and survival of the civilian population in Srebrenica and Zepa “unbearable”, Karadzic said that the Directive was prepared by “services” and that VRS Commander Ratko Mladic changed the operational part without obtaining his consent.

The indictee said that the Directive did not have any practical effect in the field, because, as he said, quoting some documents issued by the Main Headquarters, the inflow of humanitarian aid to the enclaves was not reduced following the issuance of the Directive.

Mladic, former Commander of the VRS, who is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and other crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is awaiting his trial before The Hague Tribunal to begin.

Karadzic is due to complete the cross-examination of general Obradovic on Monday, February 27.

Besides the crimes in Srebrenica, Karadzic is charged with the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terror against civilians in Sarajev by long-lasting shelling and sniping and taking members of international peace corpses hostages. R.M.

This post is also available in: Bosnian