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Witness Denies Mladic Wanted Genocide

19. November 2014.00:00
Testifying in defence of the former commander of Bosnian Serb Army, Ratko Mladic, Rajko Sarenac said what he knew of the personality of the accused stood 'in stark contrast to the crimes of genocide that he is accused of'.

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Summing up the witness’s written statement in court, Mladic’s defence lawyer, Miodrag Stojanovic, said Sarenac “had multiple personal contacts and meetings with General Mladic on which basis he is assured that his family and military upbringing, principles and persistence are in stark contrast with the crimes of genocide that he is accused of”.

Sarenac, former deputy commander of the Guards Brigade at the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb forces, said Mladic had allowed thousands of Croatian civilians from the town of Vares to withdraw through territory held by Bosnian Serb forces in 1993.

He also described how Mladic guaranteed the safety of the local Muslim chief of police at Trnovo that same summer.

Mladic, former Commander of the Bosnian Serb army Main Headquarters, is charged with genocide in Srebrenica and several other municipalities, persecution of Muslims and Croats, terrorising the population in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

During cross-examination, the Prosecution faced Sarenac with the claim that, during the battles in eastern Bosnia in 1993, Serbian forces, his brigade included, forced the Muslim population to move.

“We were not at war with civilians but with fighters… if someone got in the way that was his problem,” Sarenac replied, adding that he “doesn’t remember such situations happening”.

The Prosecutor then quoted Mladic’s order to “cleanse Podrinje”, “smash Muslim units” and “allow Muslim population to relocate.” Sarenac accepted “that was an order”.

At the Prosecutor’s suggestion that a strategic goal of the Bosnian Serbs was to ensure that the river Drina was “not the border with Serbia”, Sarenac countered that he was engaged with completing combat missions and “didn’t know what strategic objective was”.

Asked whether he spread anti-Muslim propaganda during the Serbian offensive in eastern Bosnia, the witness said that even had he wanted to do so, he lacked the technical means.

Questioned whether Mladic had ordered the arrest of the members of UNPROFOR if NATO airplanes attacked Serb positions, Sarenac said that “situations happened”, but that he “doesn’t remember” such a specific order from April 1994, which the prosecutor quoted to him.

Mladic’s trial continues on Thursday, November 20.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian