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Testifying in defence of Radovan Karadzic, former Commander of the Birac Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, Svetozar Andric says that revenge “is the only possible explanation” for killing Bosniaks from Srebrenica after the occupation of the enclave by Serb forces in July 1995.
Andric explained that it could be “revenge for thousands of Serbs”, who were killed by Bosniaks forces from the enclave commanded by Naser Oric in the surroundings of Srebrenica prior to July 1995. The witness allowed for “a possibility that some omissions in commanding” happened as well.
The witness confirmed that on the day of the fall of Srebrenica, July 11, 1995, he attended a meeting between VRS Commander Ratko Mladic and General Radislav Krstic, Commander of the Drina Corps, and Commanders of Bratunac and Zvornik Brigades Vidoje Blagojevic and Vinko Pandurevic in nearby Bratunac.
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Krstic to 35 years in prison for having assisted in and supported the commission of genocide in Srebrenica. Blagojevic and Pandurevic were sentenced to 15 and 13 years in prison for having participated in crimes against Bosniaks.
However, according to Andric, “there was no question of any liquidation and relocation of the local population.”
Andric said that he had “never heard” Krstic, who led the offensive, “discussing the murder of captives from Srebrenica with anyone”.
The indictment alleges that Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska and supreme Commander of VRS, is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks. Also, he is charged with persecuting Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, terrorizing civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.
Andric said that, in late May 1992 he ordered “the relocation of the Muslim civilian population” from the zone of responsibility of Birac Brigade, but it was “organised in collaboration with municipalities”. As he said, the order referred to “Muslims, who wanted to leave” only.
The witness justified the order by the presence of numerous Bosniak forces, as well as Serbian paramilitaries, which posed “a threat both to Serbs and Muslims” in that area.
Andric confirmed that, at the same time he gave an order to open a detention camp in Vlasenica, but he requested that all international humanitarian regulations be respected. As he said, the Commander of the Birac Brigade did not know about the murder of Bosniaks in Susica detention camp in 1992.
The trial is due to continue on Monday, July 22.