Appeals Filed in Trbic Case: Prosecution demands 45-year sentence, while defence calls for acquittal
By Velma Saric – IWPR
TRI Issue 666, 25 Oct 10
Both the Bosnian prosecutor’s office and the defence for former Bosnian Serb commander Milorad Trbic last week filed an appeal against the October 2009 first-instance verdict sentencing him to 30 years in prison for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
The prosecution asked for his sentence to extended while the defence called for an acquittal.
Trbic, the former assistant chief of security of the Zvornik brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, is the highest-ranking army official to stand trial at the war crimes court in Sarajevo and the first indictee to be tried on genocide charges there. Read more
Republished with Permission
Witness says tactics reduced residents of two Bosnian Muslim enclaves to “levels of near starvation”.
By Rachel Irwin – International Justice – ICTY
TRI Issue 664, 8 Oct 10
The former commander of the United Nations forces in Bosnia told the court this week that Radovan Karadzic’s army blocked humanitarian convoys from reaching civilians in the war torn country.
“It was systematic and [the order] could only have come from the top,” said prosecution witness General Sir Michael Rose, who was the commander of the United Nations Protection Force, UNPROFOR, from January 1994 until January 1995.
Rose subsequently wrote a book entitled “Fighting for Peace: Lessons from Bosnia” which was referred to frequently throughout his testimony. Read more
The Bosnian Genocide case concluded in 2007, but other genocide trials are ongoing. In the Bosnian war, Serbia was actively involved in providing logistical, moral and military help to the Bosnian Serbs, including sending killing squads (paramilitary groups, like Arkans, Scorpions and Red Berets) to commit horrendous massacres of the Bosniak population in eastern Bosnia, Krajina, Semberija and other regions. The Scorpions – financed and operated by Serbia – directly participated in the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide. Due to lack of evidence, Serbia managed to convince the International Criminal Tribunal (ICJ) that Scorpions were not under their umbrella; however, new evidence that emerged in the trial of Stanisic/Simatovic (at the International Criminal Tribunal, ICTY) unquestionably proves that these paramilitary units were under direct umbrella of the Slobodan Milosevic’s Government of Serbia. Read more
Witnessing Exhumations on the Drina: Fifteen Years After Dayton:
Note: photographs that accompany the report can be found here.
In July 2009, the Lukić cousins, Milan and Sredoje, were convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of war crimes committed in Višegrad, a town in Eastern Bosnia, between 7 June 1992 and 10 October 1994. Milan Lukić was a leader, and Sredoje Lukić a member, of the “White Eagles,” a special military unit under the authority of the Bosnian Serb Army. The White Eagles terrorized many other towns in eastern Bosnia as well, including Zvornik. As part of the general pattern of “ethnic cleansing” that characterized the founding of Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb Army forcibly displaced some 10,000 Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) from the Višegrad municipality and destroyed local mosques. The mosque in the center of Višegrad, for example, was leveled, and it has not been rebuilt. In addition, Serb forces murdered nearly 3,000 Bosniaks in the Višegrad area. The murders were both systematic and random. Under the local “Crisis Committee” that coordinated civil and military units, many community and religious leaders were identified and targeted. Other residents were caught in periodic round-ups. The Lukić cousins themselves were convicted of two separate incidents of forcing 120 civilians into two houses and setting the houses on fire, killing nearly all of the occupants: women, children and elderly. Many other civilians were viciously murdered on the town’s Ottoman bridge and on the riverbank. Their bodies were thrown into the Drina river. It is estimated that nearly 1,000 of the victims are still missing.
Upon the reading of his guilty verdict in 2009, Milan Lukić–who had been apprehended in Buenos Aires in 2005– shook his head, expressing his disdain and denying his crimes. His denial is indicative of widespread denial in Višegrad and in Republika Srpska today. This past July 12, the day after the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica, the Prime Minister of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, denied that the genocide at Srebrenica had occurred.
However, recent work on a nearby dam caused the level of the Drina river to drop dramatically. In defiance of the denials of Lukić and Dodik, the bones of the victims were suddenly visible on the riverbanks and in the riverbed.
The Bosnia Missing Persons Institute (MPI) was able to begin combing the riverbanks and marking the bones. Here a bone protruded from the mud, there a collection of bones was visible on the surface: a finger, a radius bone and a vertebrae. Yellow flags marked the bones and orange flags marked unexploded grenades and shells.
During one of their first forays on July 27, the Institute’s team was fired upon by an unidentified gunman. Approximately a week later, on August 4th, the Institute organized a convoy to return to the site with forensic investigators from the International Commission for Missing Persons, as well as public service workers from Sarajevo (parks and mortuary employees) equipped with tools to assist in the task of scraping away layers of the riverbed.
The Missing Persons Institute’s director, Amor Mašović, along with his staff and the specialists from the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) — young professionals from the US, England and Canada– spent hours working on the riverbed, exposed to potential snipers, unexploded ordnance and poisonous snakes. Each ICMP forensic investigator was assigned five public employees. Under the careful guidance of the ICMP specialist, the workers began digging at the mud on the surface. As the bones beneath became more visible, the forensic specialist would move in and do the delicate work of clearing the mud and freeing the skeleton from the riverbed. In one location alone, near Mušići village, a tangle of four or five full skeletons was soon to be revealed.
The identification of the bones will help bring some closure to the surviving relatives of the victims. Further, these discoveries will offer additional proof of the war crimes that were committed in Višegrad, crimes for which only a few of the perpetrators, including the Lukićs, and Mitar Vasiljević, have been convicted. The value of this work, then, cannot be underestimated as part of a continuing effort to uncover the truth of the genocidal crimes in the face of official denials.
In the town of Višegrad today, there is small park in honor of Ivo Andrić, –author of the Nobel prize-winning novel Bridge on the Drina—located at the entrance to the Ottoman bridge that was constructed from 1571 to 1577. Directly across the street, a poster is clearly visible on a storefront. The poster bears a color photograph of the indicted war criminal Vojislav Šešelj, founder of the Serbian Radical Party. His head is framed by the insignia of the White Eagles, a symbol of Serbian nationalism and also of the military unit responsible for many of the acts of depraved violence against the Bosniak civilians in Višegrad. The poster bears the phrase “Free Šešelj! [Слобода Шешељу-Sloboda Šešelju.] For Bosniaks who would seek to return to their homes and neighborhoods in Višegrad, as part of the social reintegration promised by the Dayton Peace Accords, this poster is a form of cruel psychological violence.
The bones in the Drina, however, and those who are laboring to uncover the truth that rests in the riverbed, say that these crimes will not be denied and these victims will not be forgotten.
Post script: by August 18, 2010, it was reported that 73 skeletons had been found.
Note: photographs that accompany the report can be found here.
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This report is a result of two visits to Višegrad, July 31 and August 4, 2010, as well as research and personal interviews. My thanks to Amor Mašović, Director of the Bosnia Missing Persons Institute, for inviting me to accompany the convoy August 4th, 2010. Thanks to my friends Aldin Hadžić, Hikmet Karčić, Velma Šarić, Omer Sulejmanović, and Jack Hitt, for all their help in the preparation of this brief report. Special thanks to Rialda Ocuz at BHRT.
The Srebrenica Children Massacre occurred more than two years before the Srebrenica genocide. On April 12th 1993, Serbs from heavily armed villages around Srebrenica deliberately targeted Srebrenica’s elementary school killing 74 Bosniak children and seriously injuring more than 150 children. One of them was Sead Bekric. Please take a look at the following testimony from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C.
General Ratko Mladic ordered his troops to rape Muslim women and girls: “Keep the good ones over there. Enjoy them.” He told the Muslim men and boys the massacre awaits them: “There will be blood up to your knees.”
The following article, entitled “Serb Leader Ordered ‘Feast’ of Blood” appeared in “Eugene Register-Guard” on 8 August 1995, shortly after the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica.
Refugees: They say military leader Ratko Mladic attended much of the butchery.
TUZLA, Bosnia-Herzegovina – Witnesses to the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims from the former U.N. safe are of Srebrenica say Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic announced a “feast” of blood and attended much of the butchery that followed. Read more
Everyone remembers the harrowing footage of the Srebrenica massacre shot by Zoran Petrovic, the only cameraman to capture the events on film. But this week’s fascinating documentary shows that the very worst of his pictures never reached our TV screens. Key scenes from Petrovic’s rushes were ‘lost’ or blacked over, presumably to prevent reprisals. We unearth the lost images, and the completed jigsaw is even more heinous than the already blood-spattered picture. Amazingly, Petrovic has never been interviewed by the War Crimes Tribunal about what he saw. For the first time, his incriminating material is available for scrutiny. Read more
Examination of Serbian deaths in Jasenovac Camp
By: Dr. Josip Pecaric
The Serbian Ministry of Information, in conjuction with a nationalist ‘researcher’ Dr. Milan Bulajic [Srebrenica genocide denier] and the Serbian Orthodox Church, took a leading role in propagating the myth of Jasenovac. For a vast majority of Serbs, maintaining a grossly exaggerated number of ‘700,000′ Jasenovac deaths was absolutely central to their national self-identity. A high number ‘proved’ that Serbs were one of the ‘primary victims’ of the World War II, rather than Nazi collaborators (Chetniks) responsible for genocide over the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniak) and Jewish population in the Second World War. Read more
PHOTO: A bouquet of roses on a grave of one of 8,372 Bosniak victims, in anticipation of the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, 8 July 2010. (DIMITAR DILKOFF / AFP / Getty Images) ↓
Figures for Serbian Victims Grossly Inflated to Justify Srebrenica Genocide
By: Daniel Toljaga
Bosnian Serbs have consciously chosen the 12th of July – the day after the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide – to commemorate their own war dead in Bratunac by presenting a deliberately misleading, factually inaccurate and obviously falsified version of events that preceded the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
This annual “commemoration” in Bratunac is a cause for great concern. The choice of date and the gathering itself is a demonstration of disrespect for the victims of Srebrenica genocide and its survivors. The gathering is part of a long-running campaign by Serbian nationalists to cast the defenders of Srebrenica in the role of aggressors by twisting facts and distorting history in an attempt to manipulate public opinion. Read more
DNA Results of the International Commission on Missing Persons Reveal the Identity of 6,481 Srebrenica Victims
By analyzing DNA profiles extracted from bone samples of exhumed mortal remains and matching them to the DNA profiles obtained from blood samples donated by relatives of the missing, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) has revealed the identity of 6,481 persons missing from the July 1995 fall of Srebrenica. Of this, 775 DNA-identified victims will be buried on July 11th in the Potočari Memorial Center, Srebrenica.
The number of reported missing for whom ICMP has blood samples as well as the matching rate between DNA profiles extracted from these bone and blood samples leads ICMP to support an estimate of around 8,100 individuals missing from the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. Read more