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Mladic Witness Recalls ‘War with Neighbours’

12. November 2014.00:00
A defence witness told the trial of former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic that Bosniaks started the conflict in Rogatica in spring 1992 by attacking Serb villages.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Slavko Veselinovic, a former member of the Serb-led Rogatica Crisis Committee, told Mladic’s trial at the Hague Tribunal on Wednesday that Muslim units were being armed from 1991 onwards and attacked Serb villages near Rogatica in May 1992, killing and expelling many civilians.

“The war was not being fought with an unknown enemy, which came from the side. The war was fought with former friends and neighbours,” Veselinovic said.

The conflict continued until the Bosnian Serb Army finally “freed the town”, he added.

Mladic’s lawyer Miodrag Stojanovic showed clips of a documentary film made by Veselinovic in 1992.

The footage shows robbed stores, a destroyed mosque and burned houses, with Veselinovic suggesting that this was all done by Bosniaks. Two machine-gun nests were also shown, and the witness claimed they belonged to Bosniak forces.

Veselinovic said that after Serb forces took over Rogatica, he became the head of the commission to help Serb refugees. He explained that many Bosniaks and Serb left the city during the conflict and that Serb refugees were temporarily placed in abandoned Muslim homes.

He also testified that in March 1992, the Crisis Committee opposed the local Serb territorial defence unit’s commander, Rajko Kusic, who wanted to fight Muslims.

During cross-examination, Veselinovic said that Kusic wanted to attack the local police station, a suggestion that that he disagreed with, preferring instead to continue negotiations with Bosniak representatives.

When asked if Serb officials wanted to divide up Serb and Bosniak territories, the witness replied that negotiations about the division of land were held to save lives and stop the war, without any directive from top Serb officials.

Mladic is on trial for the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats in municipalities under Serb control, one of which was Rogatica, as well as genocide in several Bosnian municipalities in 1992 and in Srebrenica in 1995, terrorising the population of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The trial continues on Thursday.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian