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Transferring Srebrenica Residents to Batkovic Detention Camp

26. November 2013.00:00
As Mladic’s trial continues, a Hague Prosecution witness says that, in July 1995 the Main Headquarters of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, announced that captured Bosniaks from Srebrenica would be escorted to Batkovic detention camp, near Bijeljina, but they never arrived.

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Witness Milenko Todorovic, former Officer for Security with the Eastern Bosnia Corps of VRS, which was responsible for the “collection centre” in Batkovic, said that, following the fall of Srebrenica he received a cable from his superior officer Zdravko Tolimir, the then Assistant Commander for Intelligence and Security Affairs of VRS.

“The cable contained a task to prepare accommodation for between 1,000 and 1,200 prisoners of war from Srebrenica enclave, who would be escorted to Batkovic during those days,” Todorovic said.

According to the witness’ testimony, the Commander of the Eastern Bosnia Corps of VRS eagerly awaited the captives, hoping that they would be exchanged for Serb soldiers who had been captured by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “As the captives did not appear in Batkovic even one, two, three days later, parents of our captured soldiers began protesting,” Todorovic said.

Todorovic told the Tribunal that, due to the protests, he called Tolimir by phone and asked him when the captives would arrive. “He responded by saying: ‘Work according to your plans. The task has been given up’.”

The Hague Prosecution charges former VRS Commander Mladic with genocide against about 7,000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica. Besides that, he is on trial for having persecuted Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, terrorising citizens in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

While cross-examining the witness, Mladic’s Defence attorney Miodrag Stojanovic suggested that, according to regulations, the order to prepare the detention camp in Batkovic to receive the captives, must have come through “the command”, not “the security” lines. Todorovic confirmed that.

When asked if it was Mladic’s order, the witness said that “Mladic’s name was not mentioned at all”, adding, however, that “somebody from the chain of command, but I would not opt for any names”, ordered Tolimir to convey the order to the Command of the Eastern Bosnia Corps of the VRS.

The witness said that no crimes were committed in Batkovic and that no serious violations of human rights of detainees happened.

The trial of Mladic is due to continue on Tuesday, November 26.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian