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Firm Control over the Army

11. November 2013.00:00
Prosecution military expert Richard Dannatt says at the trial before The Hague Tribunal that General Ratko Mladic had firm command and control over the Republika Srpska army, VRS, during the Bosnian war.

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British General Dannatt concluded, after having reviewed numerous VRS documents, that Mladic was “very involved in maintaining firm control over all happenings”. As an example, he mentioned Mladic’s participation in the offensive on Srebrenica in July 1995.
“It is completely obvious that he personally controlled what was happening,” Dannatt said, mentioning Mladic’s meetings with UNPROFOR officers and representatives of the Muslim population, as well as recordings, depicting Mladic issuing orders to his forces, while walking the streets in Srebrenica.
Mladic, the then Commander of VRS, is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Muslim men from Srebrenica in the days after the occupation of the UN protected zone on July 11, 1995.
According to the witness, the indictee had “a strong character, which his men certainly respected and, to a certain extent, were afraid of him. They surely did what he ordered them to do”.
While he was saying this, Mladic nodded his head affirmatively.  
Dannat said that an army commander was responsible for its actions, no matter whether he was present in the field or not. Also, he said that Mladic issued orders and received reports even when he was absent from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Tasks can be transferred to subordinates, but the responsibility cannot,” the Prosecution’s expert said.
Prosecutor Dermot Groome quoted an entry from Mladic’s wartime diary, saying that the then UNPROFOR Commander Rupert Smith warned him about “rumours about crimes and massacre” in Srebrenica.
“I would feel obliged to investigate that,” Dannatt said.
Responding to a Prosecutor’s suggestion that, instead of doing it, Mladic went to a friend’s wedding, the military expert said that this was surprising that it trivialised general Smiths’s accusations.
Prosecutor Groome invited the expert to comment Mladic’s official assessment from November 1995 that General Radislav Krstic performed his duty as Commander of the VRS Drina Corps during the Srebrenica operation “extraordinarily”.
Dannatt said that the problem with Mladic’s praise of Krstic after the fall of Srebrenica was the fact that “nearly 8,000 men and boys died too early and that somebody was responsible for that in Krstic’s zone of responsibility”.
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Krstic to 35 years in prison for having assisted in and supported the commission of genocide in Srebrenica.
Mladic’s Defence attorney Dejan Ivetic denied Dannatt’s credibility as an expert. Dannatt called on the experience he gained while serving as an UNPROFOR officer in Bosnia and Herzegovina and performing troop and general headquarters duties in Great Britain, including the position of Commander of the British Army.
Reading Dannatt’s autobiography, Ivetic quoted a part, saying that he was convinced that Mladic had ordered Krstic to kill thousands of Srebrenica captives. When asked what his allegation was based on, Dannatt said that it was his “personal opinion”.
Dannatt confirmed that his sister-in-law, who used to work with “the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague”, but he did not know which one, helped him write his report for the Prosecution at Mladic’s trial.

The trial of Mladic, who is also charged with the persecution of Muslims 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, is due to continue tomorrow, November 12. 

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian