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Mladic’s Order to Evacuate Srebrenica Residents

4. September 2013.00:00
A decision on shooting Srebrenica residents was made during the night on July 11/12, 1995 between two meetings at which Republika Srpska Army, VRS Commander Ratko Mladic told Bosniaks that they could either “survive or disappear”, says military expert Richard Butler.

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Without specifying who made the decision on shooting, Butler suggested that it must have been Mladic, who, as he said, personally commanded the VRS military offensive against Srebrenica in the field.

“The decision to kill captives was issued between 10 pm on July 11, 1995, when the second meeting held in Fontana Hotel in Bratunac, was finished, and 10 am the following day, when the third meeting began,” Butler said, alluding to Mladic’s meetings with representatives of Srebrenica Bosniaks and Thom Karremans, Commander of the Dutch Battalion of UNPROFOR.

The VRS recorded those meetings. The recording on which Mladic said that Bosniaks could either “survive or disappear” was played in the courtroom several times and included as evidence.

According to Butler’s testimony, one of the pieces of evidence, indicating that the order to kill the captives was issued at night between July 11 and 12, was a secretly intercepted conversation between VRS Drina Corps Commander Radislav Krstic and Special Police Unit Commander Ljubomir Borovcanin on the following evening.

As indicated by the Prosecution’s expert, at that time Borovcanin already knew that policemen under his command had killed hundreds of Bosniaks in a warehouse in Kravica village, near Bratunac.

The indictment charges Mladic with genocide against about 7,000 Bosniak men from Srebrenica in the days that followed the occupation of the United Nations protected enclave by VRS on July 11, 1995. In addition to that, Mladic is on trial for persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

The Hague Tribunal previously pronounced a second instance verdict, sentencing Krstic to 35 years in prison for assisting in and supporting the commission of Srebrenica genocide and Borovcanin to 17 years for crimes committed in that same area.

Butler quoted documents about the mobilisation of tens of buses and procurement of fuel for evacuation, as well as intercepted Mladic conversations, as evidence that Mladic decided, even prior to the meeting with Srebrenica Bosniaks in Fontana Hotel, that the entire population had to leave Srebrenica.

During one of those conversations from July 12, 1995 Mladic said: “Everybody has capitulated. We shall evacuate all of them, both those who want to leave and those who do not want to do it”.

“Despite the VRS allegations, there was an order to remove everybody from Srebrenica,” Butler said, pointing out that the population “did not really have any other choice” but to leave.

According to Butler’s testimony, Mladic’s direct command during the occupation of Srebrenica was proved by a map of the “Krivaja 95” offensive, which the VRS Commander approved by signing it. On July 12, 1995 he wrote on the map: “This belonged to Serbs and still does”.

Prosecutor Peter McCloskey is due to continue examining witness Butler on Thursday, September 5.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian