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Dr Milan Bulajić: SREBRENICA — OUTLINE FOR REVISION OF THE ICTY JUDGEMENT ON GENOCIDE (Prosecutor v. Gen. Radislav Krstić)

Memo: The Srebrenica Collective: AN OUTLINE OF POSSIBLE CHAPTERS IN A CRITICAL BOOK ON SREBRENICA

Ed Herman's Outline is comprehensive and logical (Introduction, Background to July 1995 Events, Policy in the Takeover of Srebrenica...). The Srebrenica Collective has contributed very useful data and comparative studies on the Srebrenica Endgame.

But, after the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Appeals Chamber had unanimously confirmed the Trial Chamber's Judgment on genocide committed by the Serbs — the BSA, General Radislav Krstić, — the Outline should have concentrated on the genocide qualification — NEW FACTS to justify a revision of the Genocide Judgment.

George Bogdanich and Ed Herman suggested to meet some members of the Srebrenica Collective during my stay in the US from April 10 to May 10. Since the meeting was not held, George proposed that a memo be drafted for your consideration:

The BSA (General Krstić) did not perpetrate a genocide against the Muslims in Srebrenica on July 1995. As a PhD in international law (the degree obtained fifty years ago — on November 12, 1953), I'd stake my lifetime professional career on this thesis. I am also prepared to defend it before the ICTY(1).

The genocide qualification issue is crucial possibly wielding a great influence on the deliberations of the International Court of Justice on the Bosnian Muslims' lawsuit for genocide filed against the Serbs (their lawyers claim 200 BILLION US dollars worth of indemnities!)

I publicly set out this view for the first time in my lecture entitled The Truth about the Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina — a Condition for Peace and Stability in the Balkans at the Open Forum held in Prijedor, Republika Srpska, on August 1, 2003, which was openly challenged by Muslim representatives, including Jasmin Odabašić... I accepted their invitation to go to the Muslim Federation, but they failed to honour it.

Following the publication of my view both by the Muslim Dnevni Avaz and the Srpski Glas daily newspapers(2). Radio Free Europe invited the two of us to take part in the 1h 30m-long broadcast Most (Bridge) televised live on August 19, 2003. (transcript in Serbian available).

The elements for the thesis:

  • Women, children and the elderly (some 30,000 of them) were safely transferred to the Muslim-held territory — Tuzla.
  • The BSA opened up a corridor for the safe passage to Tuzla of armed Muslims (the 28th division).
  • The BSA, i.e. General Mladić personally, offered an exchange of prisoners (the Memići agreement, testimonies of Muslim prisoners), which the Muslim side rejected.
  • Three meetings BSA General Mladić conducted with UNPROFOR and the Muslims on July 12, 13 and 14; his offer to the 28th Muslim division to lay down their arms and be granted a prisoner of war status under the Geneva Convention and UN supervision.
  • A statement by a Dutchman, Captain Schouten, the ranking UN officer on the scene in Bratunac, July 13 (Het Parool, 27/07/95)(3).
  • After the fall of Srebrenica, some 800 armed Muslims were received in Serbia (according to the arrangement between Carl Bildt and President Slobodan Milošević)

The ICTY passed judgments devoid of genocide qualifications in the following cases:

  • Erdemović,
  • Nikolić,
  • Blagojević,
  • Deronjić

For Bosnia , also in the case of:

  • Plavšić,
  • Stakić

Not a single Muslim (a genocide perpetrated in as many as one hundred Serb villages in the very same Srebrenica area) or Croat (more than 200,000 Serbs expelled and killed during military operation Storm, in almost coinciding actions — beginning August 1995)(4) was indicted for Genocide! Why was General Krstić charged therewith!?

We may argue that the Genocide qualification was a POLITICAL JUDGEMENT.

Atrocities were committed in the Srebrenica theatre in the course of 1995 as a consequence of REVANGE sparked by Muslim genocidal acts against the Serbs in the period between 1992 and July 1995, which was not considered by the Appeals Chamber:

  • I am doing a research on the 1992-1995 Chronology on the basis of the documents seized from the 28th Muslim division and number of witness testimonies (as legal depositions!).
  • The Muslim massacre against the Serbs in the village of Kravica on Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993 — reprisals in the village of Kravica in July 1995!
  • Muslim general Naser Orić — interviews to western journalists, video footages shown,
  • French General Philippe Morillon's testimonies,
  • Chuck Sudetić's book BLOOD AND VENGEANCE.

Atrocities were committed by both parties, but the ICTY ought to investigate and establish:

  • the number of victims (after nine years!)!
  • the identity of the perpetrators!

The number of victims is important for this analysis, but it is not decisive for the Genocide qualification.

What is most significant is to identify the perpetrators and determine the role of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, particularly that of Dražen Erdemović, the key witness in the General Krstić Judgment on Genocide. George Szamuely's Outline represents an excellent in-depth analysis. Yet, the emphasis should not be on the inconsistencies in his statements, but rather on who he was and what kind of role he played.

The people in question were a group of mercenaries tasked with killing the Muslim POWs in order for the blame to be pinned on the BSA.

Erdemović admitted both before the Serbian District Court of Novi Sad, where he was charged with war crimes against Muslim POWs, and the ICTY that they had received twelve kilos of gold, a large amount of Deutsch Marks, and, in reward, re-assignments to fresh duties in Zaire and Kosovo. In an ensuing clash between them as they tried to split the gold and money Erdemović was wounded (Dr Stanković furnished me with the Military Hospital's documentation on Erdemović's medical treatment).

The role of the British Intelligence (reporter Nataša of the London-based ABC news agency) and French Intelligence (Le Figaro reporters) is to be established. At Belgrade airport, Yugoslav police seized from Nataša a one and a half hour long video footage she had been given by Erdemović in the Novi Sad Hotel Park, Fantasia on 1 March 1996).

Upon his transfer from the Serbian Novi Sad Court to the ICTY in The Hague, Dutch doctors found Erdemović mentally not fit for being heard in connection with his own case, but he was accepted as a key witness in the General Krstić case (as well as other cases!). »An expert team concluded in its report that Dražen Erdemović's mental condition prevented him from appearing before the Trial Chamber at the time. But the Trial Chamber granted him a leave of absence to testify in the Prosecutor v. Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić proceedings (IT-95-18-R61)(5).

George Szamuely concluded as follows: “In its handling of Erdemović, the ICTY treated as a hero a man who admitted to having taken part in a massacre of 1,200 unarmed Muslims and to have personally killed some 100 unarmed men. His punishment was a mere five years” imprisonment, a sentence that, as he revealed, he did not even serve«. Yes, Erdemović was not sentenced for the crime of genocide unlike General Krstić. He is at large, face changed, now testifying as protected witness!!”

In a special issue of the Dani u Sarajevu independent magazine of September 1998, Esad Hećimović said that “they sold Srebrenica to preserve power”: “Since the summer of 1995 we have faced the same issue — what really took place in the “endgame” of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina... There are at least two more disputed orders of the General Staff of the B-H Army for which nobody was held responsible. The orders at issue are that of March to pull out a group of the highest-ranking officers from the Srebrenica enclave and the June order to launch sabotage activities from the Srebrenica enclave to support the unbloking of Sarajevo. The two orders crucially contributed to the deterioration of the situation within the enclave and the possibility of its defence from abroad. Izetbegović and Silajdžić influenced the possibility of defence by convincing the defenders that the only thing they should do was to await NATO air-strikes.” He also quotes earlier negotiation between Alija Izetbegović and Momčilo Krajišnik on the possibility of trading territories and dislocating the population. “For this reason, the issues of the manner in which Eastern Bosnia was ethnically purged of Bosniaks and that in which the Serbs left Sarajevo corroborated the assertions that their return was plausible. The plan to end the war in B-H drafted by Anthony Lake, the national security advisor of US President Bill Clinton, was dubbed “endgame strategy”. “The endgame” of war in B-H took place in the period between September and December 1995. In Muslim-Serb relations, which Alija Izetbegović labelled crucial for Bosnia-Herzegovina, two decisive “wartime battles” were waged — the unbloking of Sarajevo and the fall of Srebrenica.”

Being aware of the fact that the Serbs ought to control Central Podrinje, one had to trick them by “granting them a military victory” and ceding them Srebrenica, and then vilify the Serbs in the media and draw NATO into the war against the Serbs. On the order of the B-H Army Chief-of-Staff, Rasim Delić, in March 1995, the commander of the 128th infantry division in Srebrenica, Naser Orić, and a group of seventeen lower-ranking officers and commanders of his division were pulled out and sent for training in Zenica.

Muslim leader Alija Izetbegović called on the Wartime Presidency of Srebrenica to dispatch a delegation to Sarajevo to take part in important talks. The wartime commander of Srebrenica, Naser Orić, refused to partake in the talks.

The leader of the SDP, Hakija Meholjić, says it was decided that a 9-strong delegation departed from Srebrenica. “We had an immediate premonition that important things were ensuing as it was the first time we left Srebrenica aboard two helicopters specially provided for the occasion. We wondered how came it was safe for us to leave then given that ever since Srebrenica was pronounced demilitarized zone, no civilian delegation could pay us a visit. It was envisaged that Naser Orić should go too, which he refused. From Sarajevo airport personnel carriers transported us to the Holiday Inn Hotel. At the time, a Bosniak convention was held to review the peace plan on the division of Bosnia. We were seen by President Izetbegović who, immediately after welcoming us, inquired: “What do you think about trading Srebrenica for Vogošća?” There was a short silence. Then I spoke up: “Mr President, if you invited us to accept the fait accompli, you should not have done so as we have to stand before our people and bear the burden of the decision”. In reply to the reporter's repeated question as to whether such an offer had been resolutely discarded, Meholjić said as follows. “We decisively declined it.” Then he said: “You know, in April 1993 (after the fall of Cerska and Konjević Polje), Clinton proposed that we should allow the Chetnik forces to seize Srebrenica and commit a massacre against 5,000 Muslims only to spark a military intervention.” The convention commenced, the president stepped in to introduce us and as he did so everybody stood up to welcome us with a rapturous applause, as heroes. We put forward a request — should the plan be embraced, Srebrenica must have a physical link to Tuzla””.

In a letter to Izetbegović, Naser Orić, who refused to show up in Sarajevo as a member of the Srebrenica delegation, said the following: “I opposed your decision to surrender Srebrenica which you had arranged with the French and I particularly disagreed with the ensuing events and too many sacrificed civilians, regardless of the effect made. I honoured the agreement and I can tell you that the dearest amount of cash I have ever received is the two million Deutche Marks I collected as a reward on the Yellow Bridge near Bratunac on my way out.”

On this basis, I believe it is possible to institute fresh proceedings to challenge the Appeals Chamber's Judgment on Genocide.

The foregoing is my own opinion. In view of the importance of this project, I believe it is necessary that the Srebrenica Collective stage a round table discussion, possibly with the attendance of some international lawyers.

Milan Bulajić

____

1) I was invited to testify before the ICTY as an expert witness in the Slavko Dokmanović case.

2) The Belgrade Novosti daily newspaper carried my interview under the heading: “Crimes — Yes, Genocide — No!”, Belgrade, 3 December 2003.

3) Jared Israel, “Srebrenica, a small town in Yugoslavia: Five years on and the lies continue”.

4) Even notorious Nazi-Ustasha Minister of Police Andrija Artuković (1986) and Dinko Šakić, the commander of Jasenovac — the Nazi Ustasha system of genocide camps (1999) were not indicted, tried or sentenced for genocide, but only for simple murder.

5) Dražen Erdemović, Indictment, par, 9; Sentencing Judgment, para 79.