Bosnian Serb Army Chiefs Honour Ratko Mladic
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The Organisation of Military Chiefs of the Bosnian Serb Army said on Tuesday that Ratko Mladic has become a member and agreed to be elected as honorary president.
The head of the organisation, Milovan Milutinovic, told a press conference that Mladic had sent a message to him saying that he was doing this to defend Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity.
“It is the obligation of all politicians and patriotic forces to resist any kind of threats to Republika Srpska and its institutions,” Milutinovic quoted Mladic as saying.
He added that Mladic also told him that it was necessary to “bring patriotic forces together around basic goals and obligations directed towards preserving [Republika] Srpska and increasing care for families of killed and disabled veterans, soldiers and military chiefs, who gave an unselfish contribution [in the 1990s war]”.
Milutinovic said that the military chiefs’ organisation expected a backlash from associations representing war victims in the country’s Bosniak- and Croat-dominated Federation entity.
“We will not pay attention to that. We consider that Mladic, as the Bosnian Serb Army’s leading soldier, deserves to be member of our organisation. It is our honour and pleasure and we will not pass it up,” Milutinovic said.
Mladic was convicted of genocide and other wartime crimes by the UN court in The Hague in November 2017 but will appeal against the verdict sentencing him to life imprisonment. The final judgment is due to be handed down next year.
A member of the Bosnian Serb military chiefs’ organisation’s presidency, Stamenko Novakovic, said a request will be submitted to the Republika Srpska government to appoint representatives of the organisation as members of its commissions to investigate crimes committed in Srebrenica and Sarajevo during the war.
“Military chiefs led the units which conducted combat operations. Only they possess the essential knowledge about that and a complete picture that is crucial for the truth,” Novakovic said.
“We want to be active participants in those investigations and give our contribution to truth and justice, which is of vital interest for [Republika] Srpska,” he added.