1 Friday, 26 February 2010
2 [Prosecution Opening Statement]
3 [Open session]
4 [The accused entered court]
5 --- Upon commencing at 2.18 p.m.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Welcome back in the courtroom. Good afternoon to
8 Could the Registrar call the case, please.
9 THE REGISTRAR: Thank you and good afternoon, Your Honours. This
10 is case number IT-05-88/2-T, the Prosecutor versus Zdravko Tolimir.
11 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you.
12 I don't believe it's necessary to hear the appearances each day
13 of the whole trial, but as this is the first day of the hearings I would
14 like to ask counsel for the appearances.
15 MR. THAYER: Good afternoon, Mr. President, Your Honours.
16 Good afternoon, General Tolimir, Mr. Gajic, good afternoon
17 everyone. My name is Nelson Thayer. With me is senior trial attorney,
18 Peter McCloskey. We have Janet Stewart, our trial manager with us today,
19 as she will be with us every day for the remainder of the trial.
20 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
21 And for the Defence.
22 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. President. God help
23 you all. God bless you all. My name is Zdravko Tolimir and this is my
24 legal assistant, Aleksandar Gajic. I wish you a successful work and I --
25 may you bring these proceedings to a successful end, God willing, and I
1 would like to welcome all of you in the courtroom. Thank you.
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you, Mr. Tolimir.
3 I take it that you have received the translation properly? Thank
5 I wish everybody for this trial fruitful co-operation and a good
6 atmosphere in the courtroom. We have -- we are looking forward to the
7 Prosecution to present the opening statement.
8 Mr. Thayer.
9 MR. THAYER: Good afternoon again, Your Honours, and may it
10 please Court.
11 Your Honours, on the 12th of May, 1992, at the 16th Session of
12 the National Assembly of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina,
13 President Radovan Karadzic announced the Strategic Objectives of the
14 Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were six of these
15 Strategic Objectives, and for the people of Srebrenica and Zepa in
16 particular, two of these objectives would be carried forth like torches
17 for the rest of the war, keeping the flames of ethnic and religious
18 hatred burning relentlessly and culminating in the pitiless inferno that
19 ultimately consumed over 7.000 men and boys from Srebrenica on the
20 killing fields of Eastern Bosnia and permanently searing the lives of
21 thousands more of their neighbours and loved ones who survived but were
22 starved, terrorised, shelled, and ultimately driven out of the so-called
23 safe areas of Srebrenica and Zepa in buses, open lorries, dump trucks,
24 literally torn from their loved ones, most of whom they would never see
1 The men who carried these torches included the highest-level
2 politicians, such as Radovan Karadzic and President of the National
3 Assembly Momcilo Krajisnik, who set these political Strategic Objectives
4 and war goals. And they also included the highest-ranking officers of
5 the Army of Republika Srpska, the VRS - as we will refer to it - such as
6 Ratko Mladic, Milan Gvero, Radislav Krstic, and the accused,
7 Zdravko Tolimir.
8 Your Honours, these were well-trained officers of the Yugoslav
9 national army, one of the most professional armies in eastern Europe at
10 the time. They were graduates of military academies who had received
11 specialised training and attended higher command schools in Belgrade.
12 They were steeped in a tradition of military honour and proud service,
13 and they were also the inheritors of the horrors wrought by the Second
14 World War, the Balkans left as deeply scarred as anywhere in Europe. And
15 to prevent the recurrence of crimes against humanity and violations of
16 international law, the Yugoslav national army trained these officers in
17 the sacred obligation entrusted to every soldier and in particular to the
18 proud officer class that would some day lead men in war; that there are
19 rules in war and that those rules must be obeyed.
20 When the Army of Republika Srpska was formed it adopted those
21 rules and encoded that sacred obligation and trained its officers so that
22 genocide and war crimes would never again about the ruinous legacy of men
23 under arms in the lands we now refer to as the former Yugoslavia. This
24 case is about the betrayal of that sacred obligation by one of those
25 officers, Zdravko Tolimir, who served at the highest echelon of the VRS
1 and who was one of Ratko Mladic's most trusted assistant commanders.
2 This case is about General Zdravko Tolimir's choice to forsake his duty,
3 to abide by the laws of war in pursuit of a mono-ethnic Serbian state and
4 ultimately to take part in and lead organised brutality, which he knew
5 violated every tenet of his training and any officer's code and he well
6 knew were crimes against humanity.
7 General Tolimir sits before you charged with genocide for
8 essentially two reasons, Your Honours. First, because he took part in
9 the unrelenting common plan of the Bosnian Serb military and civilian
10 leadership to expel the Muslim population from the Srebrenica and Zepa
11 enclaves, by making their lives so unbearable that they had no hope for
12 survival there. And second, because he assisted, supervised, and
13 authorised the organised detention, execution, and burial of thousands of
14 Muslim men and boys following the elimination by that common plan of the
15 Srebrenica enclave.
16 The Prosecution will prove General Tolimir's participation in
17 these heinous events to you through virtually every type of evidence
18 available: Live witness testimony, military records, military
19 intercepts, audio and videotape, forensic science, and aerial imagery.
20 Your Honours, the evidence will show that General Mladic himself
21 told the National Assembly of Republika Srpska in April of 1995, and I
23 "Gentlemen, General Tolimir has been my closest assistant in this
24 war in terms of years of service and has been with me longest from the
25 first days."
1 Indeed, General Tolimir was responsible for the units and the men
2 in whom General Mladic placed his very life. And although as Main Staff
3 assistant commander for intelligence and security - General Tolimir was
4 not a commander in the sense that he could routinely issue orders of a
5 combat nature in the field to fighting units - General Tolimir's
6 authority and influence was indisputable. Prior to the mass deportations
7 and executions in July of 1995, Mladic relied on General Tolimir to help
8 him carry out the slow strangling of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa
9 in order to create those conditions, those inhuman conditions that would
10 later force the Muslim population to give up hope of survival and leave,
11 ultimately in fulfilment of those Strategic Objectives I spoke about a
12 few moments ago.
13 And when the forced expulsions and mass murder began in July of
14 1995, the evidence will show that General Tolimir was knee-deep in the
15 middle of it. Doing his job with the same combination of big-picture
16 field of vision and relentless precision that he had always brought to
17 his job and upon which General Mladic depended. And indeed, I dare say,
18 Your Honours, without which the VRS could not have survived.
19 And the evidence will show that in this misery and carnage in
20 1995, General Tolimir did issue orders, General Tolimir did make
21 proposals which were implemented, and General Tolimir did oversee and
22 authorise the officers who organised and directed the slaughter of those
23 7.000 men and boys. It was his men in the Main Staff, like Ljubisa
24 Beara, his direct subordinate, his chief of security, and others all down
25 his professional chain of command line, like Vujadin Popovic from the
1 Drina Corps, who were at the detention and execution and burial sites,
2 Your Honours, making sure that that murder operation did its evil work
3 until the last bullet was fired and the last body buried.
4 This case is not about the farmer soldiers who were pulling the
5 triggers in those killing fields of Eastern Bosnia, Your Honours, but
6 about who the officer who day in and day out during the war was
7 responsible for the work of the men like Beara and Popovic, who were the
8 ones who made sure that those triggers were getting pulled, and that
9 officer was General Tolimir.
10 Today I will review with Your Honours some of General Tolimir's
11 specific contributions to both the forcible transfer operation and the
12 murder operation. But as the evidence will show, the horror of July 1995
13 did not occur spontaneously or in a vacuum; to the contrary, the VRS
14 efforts to remove the Muslim population from Srebrenica and Zepa date
15 back to 1992. And they plot a deliberate course to the ultimate
16 destruction of the Muslim population of Srebrenica and Zepa by that
17 forced expulsion and mass murder.
18 So we need to look at some of the key documents and evidence
19 establishing this crucial context that goes directly to General Tolimir's
20 intent, knowledge, role, and contributions to the joint criminal
21 enterprises charged in the indictment. So let us begin by returning to
22 that fateful Assembly session in May 1992 and to the Strategic Objectives
23 of the Serbian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina which were issued by
24 President Karadzic before the assembled.
25 We should have on our screen, Your Honours, a copy of the English
1 translation of the six Strategic Objectives. We note that Strategic
2 Objective 1 - and please let me know if we have any technical
3 difficulties - Strategic Objective 1 was to:
4 "Establish state borders separating the Serbian people from the
5 other two ethnic communities."
6 And these other two ethnic communities, of course, were the
7 Croats and the Muslims.
8 The second objective was to create a corridor that stretched from
9 the north-east to the west. And the third Strategic Objective:
10 "Establish a corridor in the Drina River Valley, that is,
11 eliminate the Drina as a border separating the Serbian states."
12 Now, what does this mean? As President Karadzic would say that
13 day - and let's turn to the actual minutes of that Assembly -
14 "The first such goal," again, "is the separation ..."
15 And he defines the other two ethnic communities as:
16 " ... those who are our enemies and who have used every
17 opportunity, especially in this century, to attack us, and who would
18 continue with such practices if we were to stay together in the same
20 And this refers to the brutal treatment of the Serbs under the
21 Nazi puppet state of the Independent State of Croatia during World War
23 President Karadzic further defined the third strategic goal. He
24 said that:
25 "We are on both sides of the Drina and our strategic interest and
1 our living space are there. We now see a possibility for some Muslim
2 municipalities to be set up along the Drina as enclaves, in order for
3 them to achieve their rights, but that belt along the Drina must
4 basically belong to Serbian Bosnia and Herzegovina. As much as it is
5 strategically useful for us in a positive way, it helps us by damaging
6 the interests of our enemy in establishing a corridor which would connect
7 them to the Muslim International and render this area permanently
9 So here we have the deadly combination: The desire to unite with
10 mother Serbia across the river, to form a united Serbian state, paired
11 with the fear that your enemy will come, commit genocide against you.
12 And you will see time and again, Your Honours, this drum-beat of
13 impending genocide at the hands of Muslims and Croats in the documents
14 and from the mouths of the Main Staff.
15 Now, another important development at this 16th Assembly Session
16 is the establishment of the army itself. The first name the Army of the
17 Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and then soon known as the
18 Army of Republika Srpska or VRS. And on that day as well, Ratko Mladic
19 was appointed commander of the army's Main Staff. The evidence will show
20 that General Tolimir, then a colonel, was in Banja Luka for this Assembly
21 session and he himself would address countless other sessions during the
22 war. And you will see that as General Mladic accepted the appointment as
23 commander of the Main Staff, even then he took the opportunity to refer
24 to General Tolimir by name during his address to the Assembly that day.
25 And you will hear that the day before, on 11 May 1992, 12 JNA officers -
1 four of whom were generals: General Mladic; General Manojlo Milovanovic,
2 who you will hear about; General Milan Gvero, who you will hear about;
3 and General Djordje Djukic, who you will hear a little bit about - met
4 near Han Pijesak at Crna Rijeka where the army would be headquartered.
5 And they were informed that Mladic the following day would establish --
6 that the army would be established the following day and Mladic would be
7 appointed the commander of the Main Staff. They were told the day before
8 the Assembly that Gvero would be the assistant commander for moral
9 guidance, Djukic its assistant commander for logistics, Colonel Tolimir
10 the assistant commander for intelligence and security. And here he we
11 see the line-up, as it were, pretty much from the beginning from the very
12 first day: Mladic, Gvero, Tolimir.
13 And you'll see all the official presidential orders putting these
14 assignments into effect, creating the corps, calling up every member of
15 Serbian nationality to join the VRS and bring with them their JNA
16 equipment and weapons, and critically assigning its most capable officers
17 to the most important positions in the army.
18 The way it worked was Radovan Karadzic became the supreme
19 commander of the armed forces, which consisted of the VRS; the police,
20 also known -- referred to as the MUP, Ministry of the Interior, MUP; and
21 the civilian defence. And as commander of the Main Staff, Mladic was
22 directly subordinated to President Karadzic.
23 Now, how do we know that these Strategic Objectives announced in
24 May 1992 were more than just words of politicians and were in fact being
25 communicated to the soldiers in the field?
1 The first thing I'm going to tell you about is a meeting that
2 occurred in Bijeljina on the 2nd of September, 1992, attended by
3 President Karadzic, Assembly President Krajisnik, and General Gvero,
4 representing the Main Staff. You will see the war diary of now-General
5 Novica Simic, who was the commander of the East Bosnia Corps during the
6 war. You will hear that Momcilo Krajisnik addressed the gathering and
7 reiterated the six Strategic Objectives, all six of which General Simic
8 faithfully recorded in his diary at the time. And he noted, for our
9 purposes, the first Strategic Objective was separation from the Muslims
10 and then the Drina Valley to the Serbs.
11 So you see the gospel going out. It's been out there for a while
12 but it's going out in full strength during this time. And how do we know
13 that that is then getting transformed into military action from rhetoric,
14 from the Assembly floor, to concrete results on the ground. And
15 importantly for our purposes how are these relevant to the case against
16 General Tolimir.
17 The evidence will show that these war goals were communicated and
18 translated into concrete military tasks by way of documents called
19 "directives." These were written documents which assigned the VRS forces
20 specific military operations for a specific geographic zone and a
21 specific time-period, usually divided into stages with specific durations
22 and set objectives. And as we will examine later, these directives were
23 typically drafted in the Main Staff by a process in which Mladic's
24 assistant, commanders like General Tolimir, provided their expert input
25 regarding the directives' larger goals and missions and after which they
1 were synthesised and shaped into a militarily cohesive document that
2 could be understood and implemented by the operational level of the army,
3 that is, by the corps and on down.
4 They were approved by President Karadzic, signed by him in some
5 cases, signed by General Mladic or General Milovanovic and others before
6 being distributed down the command chain. And in the lower-level
7 commands would receive those documents, analyse them, and turn them into
8 concrete missions on the ground.
9 And that is how the strategic war goals and aims are funneled
10 down. And let's look at one of the key documents, Directive 4, as it
11 will be referred to during the trial.
12 You can see that it begins with the review of the current
13 military and political situation and the enemy's activities and
14 intentions. And in the Main Staff it was General Tolimir's job to find
15 out what the enemy's activities and intentions were so that the VRS could
16 make the best-informed assessments and war fighting decisions. That was
17 part of his job.
18 And as we move through the document we see that it reflects that
19 the Drina Corps, the corps that encompassed the enclaves of Srebrenica,
20 Zepa, Gorazde, had recently been formed and was in the process of active
21 combat activities in the area known as the Podrinje, which encompassed
22 these areas as well. The directive further notes that:
23 "The enemy groups in ... Gorazde, Zepa, Srebrenica, and Cerska
24 have not been totally routed."
25 And, okay, so far what we see is the normal war fighting
1 language, nothing wrong with this. Defeat the enemy, inflict the
2 heaviest losses possible. There's nothing wrong with that. Again:
3 "The Drina Corps: From its present positions ... shall ...
4 exhaust the enemy, inflict the heaviest possible losses ..."
5 But then we see this language and I quote:
6 " ... and force him to leave the Birac, Zepa, and Gorazde areas
7 together with the Muslim population."
8 You will hear that the Birac area encompassed Srebrenica and
9 Zvornik and some other areas along a little belt. Your Honours, this is
10 an illegal order. You could almost miss it, being one line of text, but
11 there it is. And we will soon see that they're not just words on paper.
12 In a well-organised and disciplined army like the VRS, this order
13 represented the considered intent of the Bosnian Serbs' highest military
14 and political command: Force the Muslims out.
15 Now, General Milovanovic who wrote this will testify as a
16 Prosecution witness, and to no one's great surprise he will probably be
17 less than candid about the meaning of this order. But we will see
18 exactly what it meant.
19 Just a couple of days later we have here a Drina Corps order
20 dated 24 November 1992. It's issued by then-Colonel Zivanovic. You will
21 hear about him throughout the trial. In July of 1995 he was
22 General Zivanovic, commander of the Drina Corps until 13 July, when
23 General Krstic took over. But in 1992 he is in full command of the Drina
24 Corps. And what does he say in this order? You'll see at the very top
25 of the first paragraph:
1 "Pursuant to the directive of the Main Staff of the Army of
2 Republika Srpska ..." and he cites the specific order number of Directive
3 4 so there's no doubt what he's talking about, " ... I have decided to
4 launch an attack ..."
5 But again, we see the language, this key language, and I quote:
6 " ... and force the Muslim local population to abandon the area
7 of Cerska, Zepa, Srebrenica, and Gorazde."
8 The meaning of General Milovanovic's words were obviously not
9 lost on General Zivanovic, and we'll see further in the order when he
10 talks about the moral and psychological preparations, how important to
11 the VRS this operation was from a strategic point of view.
12 " ... inform the unit members about the important aim of that
13 operation and underline that the outcome of minor actions and of the
14 whole operation is of crucial importance for the realisation of the aim
15 of the Serbian people; namely, the creation and establishment of a
16 Serbian state in these areas."
17 Now, let's take a look for a moment, Your Honours, at some maps.
18 You've heard references to the Drina Corps and various other locations in
19 Eastern Bosnia. Birac, again, that's the area of Bratunac, Vlasenica,
20 Zvornik, Srebrenica, and Cerska. And you will hear references to the
21 Podrinje, the upper Podrinje, lower Podrinje, middle Podrinje. But let's
22 just take a look at the basics right now. You can see on the left in
23 blue the Drina River flowing northwards, as it does, on the eastern
24 border of the Drina Corps all the way up beyond Bijeljina and ultimately
25 it empties out into another river. But you'll see that it passes very
1 close to Zepa at the bottom there, and that will figure later in the
2 trial. Muslim men fleeing for their lives will swim across that river.
3 And we see that the Drina Corps was headquartered in Vlasenica. And just
4 to the north you can see the East Bosnia Corps which was, as I mentioned,
5 commanded by General Simic; the fellow who wrote down the six Strategic
6 Objectives in his war diary that we heard about a moment ago.
7 Turning to this second map, again you can see the border of the
8 Drina River in blue and exactly how close it does flow to Zepa, and you
9 can see the three enclaves starting from the south-west up to the
10 north-east, Gorazde, Zepa, and Srebrenica. And you can see how close
11 Srebrenica and Zepa really. And pretty much smack in the middle of the
12 map there's a blue flag, and that represents the Main Staff command post
13 at Crna Rijeka, just a little bit to the south-east of Han Pijesak. And
14 I won't go through all the brigades with you, but a couple of the key
15 ones, if you see just below Zepa to the south-west the 1st Podrinje Light
16 Infantry Brigade, that is more commonly known as the Rogatica Brigade
17 because it was based in the town of Rogatica commanded by Rajko Kusic.
18 And north of Srebrenica you will see the 1st Zvornik Brigade. That was
19 commanded by Vinko Pandurevic in July of 1995.
20 Now, Your Honours, immediately following the issuance of
21 Directive 4 you will hear that the Drina Corps was not able successfully
22 to carry out all of the tasks given it. Specifically, you'll hear that
23 Muslim forces gained many military successes in late 1992 and early in
24 1993, including the assault on Orthodox Christmas of the village of
25 Kravica on the 7th of January, 1993. That assault was conducted by
1 forces led by Naser Oric, who you will hear about. Naturally, you will
2 see that General Tolimir was familiar with these events at the time as
3 they were -- represented a serious military defeat and also serious
4 threats, obviously, to the area's security. It was his job to know what
5 the enemy was up to and perhaps more importantly what it was likely to be
6 up to.
7 So here we just have an example. You'll note at the top it says
8 Main Staff of the VRS, intelligence and security administration. That
9 was General Tolimir's outfit in the Main Staff. It would later become
10 known as a sector, so you'll see documents with intelligence and security
11 sector. That's how you know we're talking about the Main Staff when you
12 hear the word "sector."
13 He's passing this information on, that he's received information
14 that the Muslims are planning to repeat the attack in two or three days.
15 He's keeping his eye on this area, and what we see happening is a Drina
16 Corps counter-attack. What we have on the screen now is a Drina Corps
17 combat order for the liberation of Kamenica, Cerska, Konjevic Polje. A
18 series of towns, and we'll take a look at a map in a few moments, roughly
19 to the west of Srebrenica.
20 We can see from the first paragraph here that General Zivanovic
21 refers back to his November 1992 order, in which he explicitly
22 incorporated the language from Directive 4, that criminal order to remove
23 the Muslim population, to force them out. We see he refers to that
24 order. You can see he refers to the serious losses in our forces in
25 Kravica, Glogova, another village nearby.
1 And then he orders the liberation. Again, under morale and
2 psychological preparations we see how important, how strategically
3 important, this area was to the Bosnian Serbs. It should be stressed,
4 and I quote:
5 " ... that the success of these activities ... is hugely
6 important for the Serbian people of this area and beyond."
7 Now, what followed, Your Honours, in carrying out
8 General Zivanovic's order was the forced expulsion of the civilian
9 population of these areas of Kamenica, Cerska, and Konjevic Polje. You
10 will hear testimony about the Drina Corps's brutal attacks on these
11 locations, the relentless shelling and targeting of civilians that forced
12 the Muslim population out, out of their homes steadily eastwards towards
13 Srebrenica. As village after village fell to this Serb shelling, as they
14 burned the houses in their wake. Or, to use the term the VRS liked to
15 use as a euphemism, liberated. When you see that term "liberated," the
16 evidence will show that means ethnically cleansed, forcibly expelled.
17 Just very quickly here's a map showing you these areas I'm
18 talking about. You can see Zvornik. Just to the south of Zvornik is the
19 area of Kamenica. Here we've highlighted an area called Cancari which is
20 nearby. And these villages one by one, Cerska, Konjevic Polje, fell and
21 the populations were driven into Srebrenica. This is a huge swath of
22 territory. And you will hear testimony from people who survived these
23 attacks, and you will hear testimony about the humanitarian disaster that
24 was created by having all of these tens of thousands of people compressed
25 into the town of Srebrenica.
1 And if we could take a moment and play just a little bit of video
2 for a couple of minutes to give you an idea of what these conditions were
3 like, and then I want to talk a little bit more about how this is
4 relevant to General Tolimir, his state of mind, his knowledge, the
5 charges in this case.
6 [Video-clip played]
7 "In trying to do what it thinks is best for the people of
8 Srebrenica, the UN has spent more time planning, waiting around, being
9 turned back and forth constantly by both sides when actually moving
10 refugees out. It believes that the population of the besieged town
11 should be reduced --"
12 THE INTERPRETER: The interpreters note that they don't have the
13 transcript of this clip and cannot interpret into B/C/S.
14 "-- particularly those who are already refugees; the thousands
15 who have no real accommodation or support in the town. And on this
16 basis, the high commissioner for refugees Special Envoy denies being
17 involved with the policy of ethnic cleansing.
18 "The people we are evacuating from Srebrenica have already been
19 ethnically cleansed because they are coming from areas that are -- have
20 already fallen under Serbian control. They are not people from
21 Srebrenica. They are refugees that arrive --
22 "From the villages around.
23 "From villages around, and also Kamenica, Polje, from Cerska,
24 areas that were -- fall under Serbian control a couple of weeks ago.
25 "However, Mr. Mendeluce's plan today is ambitious. For over a
1 week large convoys, similar to the 20 truck ones he's now proposing, have
2 at times been delayed or refused passage by a single individual military
3 official at a routine check-point. The situation is being both
4 intensified and muddled by more fighting. Though the cease-fire is
5 holding up relatively well in most of Bosnia there is heavy fighting
6 around Srebrenica with the Serbs shelling south of the town and the
7 Muslims fighting back hard.
8 "Also there is no firm commitment on the ground to the UN's
9 evacuation plans. They are ambitious and there is considerable doubt
10 here that all will go smoothly.
11 "Kate Adie BBC news Bosnia."
12 [Video-clip played]
13 "In Eastern Bosnia 37 wounded Muslims have been air-lifted from
14 the besieged Muslim enclave of Zepa. The helicopters from the United
15 Nations protection force are the first allowed into the area since Zepa
16 was designated a safe area by the UN's Security Council at the weekend.
17 Many thousands who fled into the mountains around Zepa are thought to be
18 making their way to Gorazde, another Muslim enclave declared a safe zone
19 by the UN. The Muslims air lifted were taken to Zenica in Central
21 "The air-lift was thrown behind schedule by Serb objections and
22 because the casualties were too frightened to leave their hiding places
23 in the woods and hills around Zepa. The first helicopters carried 22
24 seriously wounded people to the safe Muslim town of Zenica. Some of the
25 amputees slowly struggled across the landing strip. In Zepa they were
1 sitting targets. Now they have a chance to live normally."
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Excuse me, Mr. Thayer, you realise there was no
3 interpretation into B/C/S.
4 MR. THAYER: Yes, Your Honour, frankly the audio is not important
5 for the purposes of the videos. The idea was to give the Trial Chamber a
6 sense of the crowded conditions in Srebrenica and just a visual on the
7 wounded coming out of the Zepa enclave. We do not have, unfortunately, a
8 transcript prepared for the video in either English or B/C/S at this
10 JUDGE FLUEGGE: But you should be aware of this problem.
11 MR. THAYER: Yes, I understand, Your Honour. We have
12 translations for everything else that we've got prepared for the
14 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Please carry on.
15 MR. THAYER: Thank you.
16 Now, Your Honours, I'm going to move through some reports
17 concerning these activities, save a little bit of time for us, and move
18 directly to what I was mentioning a moment ago, the evidence tying the
19 Main Staff and General Tolimir to these events in 1993. What we have on
20 the screen is a Main Staff analyse of its combat-readiness for the year
21 1992. What these combat-readiness analyses were were basically a
22 self-evaluation conducted first at the lower command echelons and then
23 ultimately by the Main Staff. It was pretty much a report card to itself
24 on how it had performed in the previous year.
25 So here we have one prepared in April of 1993 for 1992.
1 These combat-readiness analyses were preceded by a two- or
2 three-day conference attended by Mladic and his assistant commanders,
3 corps commanders, and the highest-level political authorities in the RS.
4 And they presented and discussed all of their respective combat-readiness
5 analysis elements, their achievements, their problems, and the future
6 task. We see here General Tolimir was responsible for addressing this
7 seminar, and we have here an idea of how the Main Staff viewed itself and
8 the relationship between the Strategic Objectives and the directives.
9 You can see it refers to " ... the need to ward off Muslim-Croat
10 forces and protect the Serbian people from extermination and genocide,
11 while at the same time laying the foundations of the Serbian state ..."
12 And then it gets specific. These Strategic
13 Objectives were defined before the Main Staff and they served as a
14 general guide-line upon which the Main Staff prepared its operations and
15 concerted battles.
16 And basically what they're saying here is that they had more
17 broad objectives set before them by the politicians, but then - to use
18 their words - as you can see in this excerpt, and I quote:
19 "The Main Staff of the Army of Republika Srpska translated the
20 set objectives and tasks into general and individual missions of the
21 VRS ..."
22 JUDGE FLUEGGE: You don't have anything on the screen?
23 THE ACCUSED: [Interpretation] My apologies. I am only being
24 shown documents in English, and as the gentleman is presenting these
25 documents he's not citing their 65 ter number. So I'm unable to locate
1 them at a later stage either. And what I have here is in English only.
2 Thank you for allowing me to say this and I apologise for interrupting.
3 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Tolimir, we are not in the phase of receiving
4 evidence, but in the opening statement. You can raise that problem
5 later. Thank you.
6 Carry on.
7 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
8 We can see that, again, the document itself written by the Main
9 Staff notes that they're defending the Serbian people against genocide,
10 protecting the property and cultural heritage of the Serbian people, and
11 then focusing on:
12 "The liberation of territories which are ours and which belong to
13 us by historical birthright."
14 So more importantly for our specific purposes, what does this
15 document have to say about the army's focus on this area in the Podrinje?
16 And we see that they recognise the success that they've had on the
17 liberation - again to use their euphemism - of the Podrinje. And they're
18 referring to the specific Strategic Objective of "our war being realised,
19 one that could be defined as 'establishing contact with Serbia on the
20 Drina River or the Drina ceasing to be a frontier.'"
21 That's Strategic Objective 3. And again: By taking Kamenica,
22 Cerska, Glogova, the VRS recognises that it will shortly have achieved
23 the strategic task. They haven't achieved it yet because they haven't
24 taken Srebrenica.
25 And finally, it refers to the presence of the commander of the
1 Main Staff or of a representative of the Main Staff in the units carrying
2 out the mission for this liberation, as a specific way of giving weight
3 to and steering combat operations towards a single goal. And what the
4 evidence will show in this case, Your Honours, is that this was the
5 preferred practice of the Main Staff. To place one of the
6 General Mladic's most trusted assistants forward to where the main effort
7 was, where the battle was at hand so that they could steer and guide the
8 action, if need be, to ensure that General Mladic's intent was being
9 carried out on the ground.
10 I want to show you a report of a meeting that was held on the
11 12th of April, 1993. This meeting was attended by the UN force
12 commander, by General Morillon, who you've heard about already;
13 Mr. Mendeluce, he was the gentleman in the video you saw who was
14 describing the cleansing from Cerska; and it was attended by
15 General Mladic, Gvero, and Tolimir.
16 General Mladic states:
17 " ... that he was attending the meeting for the Muslim civilian
18 population in Srebrenica and not for his own people."
19 We see that the document says that Mladic said that he had been
20 aware of the fact that the Presidency delegation would not attend the
21 meeting because this was part of the Muslim strategy to present the
22 situation as badly as possible. Mladic went on to say that the complete
23 truth was that Srebrenica was not attacked and that it was completely
24 quiet in the area and that only the BiH - you'll see the Muslim army
25 referred to as the ABiH, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina - only the
1 BiH has broken the cease-fire. He said that the civilians were not a
2 target of the VRS. Here it's referred to as the Serbian -- the Serbian
3 Republic Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the old name. He says the Serbs
4 have no problems with the evacuation of the civilians, their actions were
5 only of a defensive character, and that he accused the Muslims of abusing
6 the humanitarian aid convoys for propaganda and to achieve their goals.
7 And you'll see throughout the trial, Your Honours, that this is a
8 consistent strategy employed by senior members of the Main Staff, be it
9 Mladic, Gvero, or Tolimir. Admit nothing, deny everything, make
10 counter-allegations, and lie.
11 Now, there's nothing wrong with deceiving the enemy. There's
12 nothing wrong with lying to your enemy's face; that's war. But when you
13 do it to help further a criminal objective, like forcing the civilian
14 population from their homes because they are Muslims and therefore an
15 obstacle to your plan to have a Serbian state, that's a contribution to a
16 joint criminal enterprise. And you'll see General Tolimir do this while
17 the VRS was shelling UNPROFOR positions and the hospital in down-town
18 Srebrenica in July of 1995. And you'll see at the bottom of this excerpt
19 Mr. Thornberry asked if the Serbs would take Srebrenica by force. And
20 General Mladic responded that he would try to solve the Srebrenica
21 problem in a political way, and he added that Srebrenica was not part of
22 Eastern Bosnia but that it was, in fact, a part of Republika Srpska.
23 Now, one notorious incident you'll hear about, Your Honours,
24 occurred on this very day, April 12th, 1993. Serbs shelling struck a
25 playground in Srebrenica and killed approximately 60 people, many of whom
1 were youngsters. You will see the UN respond to that. You'll hear
2 witnesses who were present. And we will see time and again the Main
3 Staff saying one thing and then doing another. And the Main Staff was of
4 course well aware of what was happening in Srebrenica during this period
5 in 1993, just as it would be well aware and part of what was going on in
7 Here we have a request from the Drina Corps command, again
8 then-Colonel Zivanovic to the Main Staff the day after those 60 people
9 were killed by shelling. He starts off by saying:
10 "You are well aware that a large number of civilians from
11 Srebrenica and other locations have found refuge in Srebrenica."
12 And then he goes on to talk about the population that's caught,
13 encircled by the Serb forces. And he's writing this to General Gvero,
14 the morale assistant commander. And he asks Gvero for the Main Staff's
15 help, that they "should engage themselves with projecting information to
16 the Muslims of Srebrenica on the means of their safe evacuation from the
17 combat zone."
18 Liberation, safe evacuation, again this is an example of the
19 grotesque euphemisms that you're going to hear used in these VRS
20 documents, and it's particularly sardonic when placed in the context of
21 its general -- its Colonel Zivanovic's troops which are dropping those
22 shells on the playground and that had just conducted this ethnic
23 cleansing campaign that brought everybody, all those civilians, into
24 Srebrenica in the first place. And we'll see that just a couple of days
25 later the UN declared Srebrenica a safe area, citing what it termed this
1 abhorrent campaign of ethnic cleansing.
2 And of course General Tolimir is aware of this situation because
3 it's his job to know. He's got to know what's happening down there. And
4 we see him sending out an intelligence report just a couple of days later
5 after the massacre at the playground. This goes to President Karadzic,
6 all of the intelligence and security organs, security departments, it
7 goes across the river to Serbia, to the Yugoslav Army, the VJ. He
8 mentions General Morillon's involvement, and then he writes:
9 "Their propaganda campaign, aimed at internationalising the
10 problem and securing the deployment of UNPROFOR in Srebrenica, churns out
11 allegations of artillery fire targeting the town and causing numerous
12 casualties among civilians."
13 So by Tolimir's turn of phrase those 60 lives become simply
14 propaganda and mere allegations. And, Your Honours, this is
15 evidence - and you will see it time and again - of how General Tolimir
16 shapes and steers the message that goes out to the army and it
17 facilitates the continuation of these tactics by the VRS. We're not
18 doing anything wrong, it's all Muslim propaganda. We're not doing
19 anything wrong, the Muslims are shelling themselves and they're blaming
20 it on us.
21 So that begs the question: Why does the chief of intelligence
22 and security for the Main Staff write this stuff? And it may sound
23 delusional, but as you will see, Your Honours, in part owing to the
24 horrendous atrocities suffered by the Serbs during the Second World War,
25 General Tolimir and the Main Staff shared with the Bosnian Serb political
1 leadership the self perception that the West and the Arab nation and
2 world and Catholic forces were all ranged against the Serbs. That
3 genocide was just around the corner, and the only way to prevent that
4 genocide was to remove the Croats and the Muslims.
5 Did General Tolimir really believe it? I don't know. But you
6 will see over and over again General Tolimir denying what the world knew
7 to be the case, repeating the mantra, I think it's called owning the
8 message. VRS shells weren't killing people in Srebrenica, people weren't
9 starving and suffering because of any VRS ethnic cleansing campaign. And
10 whether he believed the message or not is not as important as the fact
11 that again he is shaping the message, he and Gvero, the chief
12 propagandists, are selling the message to their men in the trenches.
13 Here we have another example, 17 April 1993, another intelligence
14 report. The Muslims are manipulating the wounded and attributing
15 offensive operations to the VRS. A few days later he refers to a
16 propaganda campaign about Zepa and Gorazde where people are allegedly
17 dying of hunger as they did about Srebrenica.
18 Now, despite the international condemnation expressed in UN
19 Security Council Resolution 819 declaring Srebrenica a safe area, and
20 perhaps even spurred by it, the VRS launches an operation in May of 1993.
21 And we see here the Main Staff combat order for the liberation of Zepa
22 and Gorazde. This was drafted in the Main Staff and there is the usual
23 preamble of the political situation, the intentions of the enemy. From
24 the document we can see that what the VRS is afraid of is UN peacekeepers
25 on the ground in Zepa preventing them from taking over Zepa as they were
1 prevented from ultimately taking Srebrenica.
2 This combat order, and I quote from an operative section in the
4 " ... the Muslim leadership is trying to internationalise the
5 problem of -- the problem of the Podrinje region at any cost by bringing
6 the UN forces to Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde and organising other
7 humanitarian actions ..."
8 And again he's -- what this is expressing is: We've got to get
9 the Muslims out before the UN gets here. And if this language about
10 internationalising the problem sounds familiar, it's because we just saw
11 it a couple of minutes ago in General Tolimir's intelligence report. So
12 you see his influence here. They are contributing to this overall effort
13 to remove the Muslims from Eastern Bosnia. And if we move through the
14 document, you'll see they talk about fully mopping up various areas of
15 the Drina River Valley. And then significantly it says in the middle,
16 and I quote:
17 " ... to enable the Muslim civilian population to move out," this
18 is their language, "(transfer) to other territories ... or to recognise
19 the rule of Republika Srpska and in that manner create conditions for the
20 return of the Serbian population to the left and right bank of the Drina
22 Once again we have here in order to achieve Strategic Objective
23 1, separate out the Muslims, and Strategic Objective 3, the elimination
24 of the Drina River as a barrier to a unitary Serbian state. And here we
25 have references to an organised exit of the civilian population, and
1 you'll note, please, at the top of the document a reference to a sabotage
2 detachment and the 65th Protection Regiment. These are Main Staff
3 assets, and you will see how these Main Staff units are employed during
4 the Srebrenica operation and in the murder operation.
5 So here we have organised exit, enabling the transfer, just like
6 General Zivanovic's safe evacuation, all euphemisms for: Move them out.
7 Euphemisms for expulsion. And this reference to staying and putting
8 one's self under RS authority, as you will see from, for example, the
9 report that I moved through, from the other evidence that we will show
10 you, after what the VRS did during this campaign, the Main Staff knows
11 that no Muslim in his or her right mind would choose to stay and there's
12 no way that the VRS would have let them. And one indicia of what their
13 stay would have been like is evidenced by the destruction of mosque after
14 mosque after mosque, and you'll see that repeated again in 1995. You'll
15 see lip-service in VRS documents paid to this idea that: We'll let the
16 Muslims stay if they recognise our authority. We'll treat them according
17 to the Geneva Conventions. And then as soon as the UN leaves, the
18 mosques get blown up. Pure lip service, window-dressing, and nothing
20 Now, you'll see that this combat order actually led to an attack
21 on Zepa in 1993 that went on until the UN passed another resolution
22 declaring Zepa and Gorazde and Sarajevo and Bihac all safe areas. And
23 Mr. Butler, the Prosecution's military expert, will probably also show
24 you yet another combat order directed at Gorazde. And remember, there
25 are three eastern enclaves we are talking about: Gorazde, Zepa, and
1 Srebrenica. Obviously we're focused on Srebrenica and Zepa. Those are
2 the events from 1995 that are of greatest interest. And you'll see
3 reports, Your Honours, during this time when Zepa's being shelled, from
4 General Tolimir again to President Karadzic, describing the attacks as
5 propaganda, referring to them as alleged, when no one can deny the
6 activity on the ground.
7 Here we see he's accusing and alleging that there is systematic
8 misinforming, alleged fierce attacks by the VRS. You just saw the combat
9 order ordering attacks. And we saw that the UN had to intervene to stop
10 those attacks. In this document from 3 May 1993 another intelligence
11 report, again referring to these reports of the attacks and shelling and
12 misery as a propaganda campaign.
13 "They make much of 'dying of hunger,' lack of medicines, and make
14 appeals to the 'conscience' of international institutions."
15 General Tolimir wrote this just a day before the UN declared Zepa
16 a safe area and just days before those wounded were brought out on the
17 helicopters that you saw on the video. Little girl, old men and women,
18 victims of shelling and sniping. And why is this all relevant to this
19 case? It's relevant, Your Honours, because it is compelling evidence of
20 General Tolimir's state of mind and his shared intent with the architects
21 and the engineers of this widespread suffering and forced expulsion. And
22 what the evidence will show is that in the beginning of March 1995 with
23 the end of the war in sight the Bosnian Serb political and military
24 leadership decided on a plan to bring the issue of the enclaves to an end
25 once and for all, to bring it to a boiling point and re-create this
1 humanitarian disaster from 1993. And it is important to have an
2 understanding, Your Honours, of just how intimately General Tolimir knew
3 these enclaves and understood their strategic importance to the Bosnian
4 Serb military and political leadership he was a key part of. So that by
5 the time 1995 comes, he's going to be engaging in the same activities,
6 the same practices.
7 What I'd like to do now, Your Honours, is turn to a brief
8 overview of the Prosecution's evidence of the Main Staff and how it
9 operated and was constructed, the duties and responsibilities of the
10 accused, how his sector worked, and so forth.
11 Your Honours, as the highest echelon in the VRS it was the Main
12 Staff where the military activities of the army were harmonised with the
13 political war goals and the diplomatic efforts undertaken by the Bosnian
14 Serb government leadership. It was the Main Staff that interacted with
15 this high level, with President Karadzic, with Mr. Krajisnik, and the
16 Assembly, and it was exclusively Main Staff officers like
17 General Tolimir, like General Gvero, and occasionally Mladic himself who
18 would address the National Assembly. He would provide an overall
19 assessment of the military/political situation as well as the picture on
20 the ground. He knew the facts, the figures of the entire war theatre
21 when he addressed the National Assembly. They would advocate on behalf
22 of the army on any number of issues, ranging from funding to specific
23 military decisions that they made in a particular municipality. And it
24 also meant that General Tolimir and a select group of Main Staff officers
25 would meet regularly with President Karadzic, talk to him on the phone.
1 You will see evidence from President Karadzic's agenda showing these
2 meetings, these meetings in Pale at the Presidency. And indeed, you will
3 hear Generals Mladic and Tolimir both speak themselves about how often
4 the Main Staff reported its activities to President Karadzic, consulted
5 with him several times a day.
6 So let's take a look at the structure of the Main Staff. You
7 should have a chart in front of you. We have tried to make it as simple
8 as possible, although it's never really attainable.
9 At the top we see General Mladic. Again, we know that he was the
10 commander of the Main Staff, subordinate only to President Karadzic.
11 Directly below him was his Chief of Staff, Manojlo Milovanovic. Now, he
12 simultaneously with his Chief of Staff held the position of deputy
13 commander if Mladic were absent. And as a first among equals among the
14 high command in the army, General Milovanovic alone had the right to
15 issue combat orders on his own. General Milovanovic you could describe
16 as being Mladic's main war-fighting man and was subsequently placed
17 forward in various parts of the war theatre for weeks or even months at a
18 time. And you will see that in July of 1995 General Milovanovic is out
19 of the picture, in the far west of the country.
20 General Milovanovic was also responsible as Chief of Staff for
21 the Main Staff's staff sector. And one might describe that as the nerve
22 centre of the Main Staff. You can see it here on the chart to the left.
23 The heart of the Main Staff in many respects is operations. And
24 Radivoje Miletic was the chief of operations and training, chief of that
25 administration. His main duties and responsibilities were to follow the
1 developments across the war theatre, analyse all the reports that were
2 flowing in from the corps, put those together, send a report up to
3 President Karadzic describing what was going on every day, but also to
4 separate out developments which were important for each of the other
5 assistant commanders to know about. The operations branch also
6 translated General Mladic's intentions into actual combat documents.
7 They're the guys that sit down and actually draft a lot of the combat
8 documents that get distributed on behalf of the Main Staff.
9 And within General Miletic's administration, you will see the
10 head of the operations department, then-Colonel Ljubo Obradovic, who was
11 the assistant chief of the section for the operations affairs. And you
12 will hear from him, he will come and testify. And Colonel Obradovic's
13 section was in many ways really where a lot of the work was done in terms
14 of the analysis of all this information, the nerve centre. And because
15 the ops and training administration was responsible for following these
16 developments, they had to acquire, attain, information from all different
17 sources, as I said the corps reports, the regular reporting everyday that
18 was coming in, reports from the individual assistant commanders, oral
19 reports from the corps commanders, information from General Tolimir's
20 intelligence and security sector.
21 And as we'll see in a little while, good communications and
22 constant regular reporting were critical for the Main Staff, both in its
23 operations centre and up and down the professional lines of command. And
24 we'll see in July of 1995 because General Milovanovic was away, you'll
25 see a lot of documents with General Miletic's name on it, as standing in
1 for General Milovanovic. And you'll also see while we're looking at this
2 staff sector, there was a chief of training, chief of the training
3 department, and I that name, I think, pretty much speaks for itself.
4 Now, in addition to the Chief of Staff and the staff sector,
5 General Mladic also had his assistant commanders, each of whom headed a
6 separate branch. And I see we're nearing what I think is probably the
7 break time, Mr. President. I can stop here for a moment and pick up or I
8 can continue for a couple more minutes. As you wish.
9 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Have you an estimation how many minutes you need
10 for finishing this part?
11 MR. THAYER: I will need probably more time than the translators
12 would like to do their jobs, Mr. President.
13 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Then we must have our first break now. For
14 technical reasons we need to have a break, and we resume quarter past
16 --- Recess taken at 3.45 p.m.
17 --- On resuming at 4.16 p.m.
18 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer, before you continue, let me say the
19 following. The Chamber would appreciate if you could provide Mr. Tolimir
20 with the 65 ter numbers of the documents you have used and are going to
21 use during your opening statement. And if there is a translation of the
22 transcript of this video in B/C/S, you should provide Mr. Tolimir as well
23 with this document.
24 MR. THAYER: Mr. President. Thank you. Your point is well
25 taken. In fact, what I did do on Wednesday was provide Mr. Gajic with an
1 index of every document I have been using, organised by subject matter,
2 with 65 ter numbers, English ERNs, B/C/S ERNs, and a description in the
3 order of my presentation so that they would have it in time to make
4 copies or get familiar with my presentation. Because this is a
5 PowerPoint presentation, unfortunately I can't put English and B/C/S up
6 at the same time. I understand from speaking with Mr. Gajic that
7 General Tolimir may be having some difficulty switching from e-court
8 to -- from the index. It's ultimately obviously a matter for the
9 Trial Chamber's discretion and the security folks, but we certainly
10 wouldn't have a problem if Mr. Gajic assisted -- if he can be of
11 assistance with this to General Tolimir for the remainder of my opening
13 Again, we furnished the index just for this purpose, so that he
14 would be able to follow along in his own language.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much. The Chamber is satisfied
16 with this course of action, and if the Defence is in the possession of
17 all numbers of the used documents.
18 And can you indicate if there is -- will be any more videos shown
19 to the public and to the Chamber?
20 MR. THAYER: There will be, Your Honour, and it's all subtitled.
21 And -- I'm speaking with the oracle, Mr. President, and the originals of
22 those videos are in the B/C/S language themselves. So General Tolimir
23 will be able to follow along with the actual video. So they -- it's been
24 subtitled into English for our purposes, but the original is in B/C/S.
25 So I think we should be okay for the remainder of the video
2 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you very much.
3 Then please carry on, Mr. Thayer.
4 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President. Good afternoon again to
5 you and Your Honours.
6 Now, where I left off was beginning to discuss the assistant
7 commanders of General Mladic. We spoke about the staff sector which was
8 headed by the Chief of Staff, and technically speaking
9 General Milovanovic was not an assistant commander in the same way that
10 General Tolimir was an assistant commander. He was the Chief of Staff.
11 He was the first among equals. He had this inherent power to issue
12 combat orders which absent specific delegated authority from
13 General Mladic the other assistant commanders did not. But the evidence
14 we will see will show that, in fact, the assistant commanders were
15 empowered to issue combat orders on occasion if they had that authority
16 delegated to them.
17 Let me spend just a couple of minutes describing generally what
18 the role of the assistant commanders was in the Main Staff. You may have
19 heard me refer to professional line of command or professional chain of
20 command. What that refers to is in the Main Staff, similar to any almost
21 corporation, you had different sections that had different specialties.
22 So we had security and intelligence, logistics, morale, and each of these
23 sectors in the Main Staff was headed by an assistant commander, and
24 sometimes we refer to this as the professional line, sometimes we refer
25 to it as the specialist line, sometimes we refer to it as the expert
1 line, but they all basically mean the same thing. An assistant commander
2 is an assistant commander for a certain expertise or area, intelligence
3 and security, rear services, morale, personnel, and so forth. And they
4 each reported directly to General Mladic.
5 And within each of these sectors, the assistant commander had
6 officers that he himself directly commanded in a professional sense and
7 to whom he could issue orders that fell within a particular professional
8 line, as it were. So these were -- and we'll talk about some specifics
9 in a minute, but these were branches that all reported through the
10 assistant commanders, like General Tolimir, directly to Mladic but had
11 their own areas of expertise. And we'll see how they operated together
12 as a unit in a little bit.
13 Now, it was the job of each of these assistant commanders to make
14 proposals to General Mladic within their specific field of expertise, be
15 it logistics, be it the morale of the army, be it intelligence and
16 security matters. So their job was to make these proposals which Mladic
17 would consider and either adopt, reject, or modify, and ultimately make a
18 decision. And if General Mladic did issue an order based on an assistant
19 commanders's proposal, it was then the assistant commander's obligation
20 to make sure that General Mladic's order was fulfilled and implemented on
21 the ground, all the way down the line. And the assistant commander would
22 do that by professionally controlling, as we refer to it, by directing,
23 as we also refer to it, expertly managing, as we sometimes refer to it,
24 the officers who fell underneath that professional line. And it was
25 their obligation to make sure that the job got done according to their
1 understood intent of General Mladic. They knew what General Mladic
2 wanted and they would make sure that their men did what had to be done to
3 get that accomplished on the ground.
4 Now, in addition to being able to issue orders within their own
5 field of expertise, for example, General Djukic, the head of rear
6 services could tell somebody to go transfer this amount of boots
7 somewhere else, the assistant commander was held responsible himself to
8 General Mladic for the work that that assistant commander's subordinates
9 were doing or weren't doing in the field. So the assistant commander is
10 always accountable, as it were, for the work done by his professional
11 subordinates. That's why you had that assistant commander there, to
12 manage those specialist branches down the line.
13 So let's look -- spend a couple of minutes, please, looking at
14 some of the individual assistant commanders and their sectors and talk
15 about what they do. The first one I want to talk about is
16 General Gvero's morale sector.
17 And we see here that his title is assistant commander for moral
18 guidance, religious, and legal affairs. And by moral guidance, that
19 incorporates a number of concepts, but the most important one was combat
20 morale, that is making sure that the fighters in the trenches have the
21 will to continue to fight, that they understand what the fight is about,
22 that they're going to retain their respect for command and do what
23 they're told. And it was General Gvero's job to monitor the state of
24 morale throughout the army, to make sure that that morale wasn't
25 weakening, that soldiers weren't deserting their posts, for example.
1 And you'll see that General Gvero and General Tolimir had to
2 co-operate a fair amount because there was overlap between their two
3 areas. For example, if you have a lot of desertions or crimes being
4 committed within a certain unit, not only is that an indication that you
5 might have a morale problem, but it's an indication that you might have a
6 security problem, and that would be of interest to General Tolimir as
7 well. So you have co-operation and overlap going on. Same thing with
8 respect to propaganda and psychological activities. Because it was
9 General Tolimir's job to make an assessment of the enemy's forces and
10 intentions, that meant knowing what your enemy was up to and that meant
11 trying to get inside your enemy's head, and that necessarily involved
12 propaganda and counter-propaganda, and psychological operations. So
13 we'll see overlap in that area as well.
14 And we have here on the screen Lieutenant-Colonel
15 Milovan Milutinovic. He was chief of the department for information and
16 psychological propaganda activities. He headed up the Main Staff's
17 information centre, and he reported to General Gvero. You'll see
18 Colonel Milutinovic on the ground. You'll see him at the Hotel Fontana
19 meetings you've probably heard about. You'll see him in Zepa. You'll
20 see General Tolimir issue an order for loud-speakers to be brought to
21 Zepa for Colonel Milutinovic for the purpose of broadcasting propaganda
22 messages to the Zepa civilians that, "You can't stay any longer in Zepa."
23 This was a common tactic used by the VRS.
24 General Gvero was also responsible for legal affairs, which meant
25 monitoring what was happening with respect to disciplinary matters,
1 criminal matters. There was a whole separate process through the
2 military court system that handled that, but it was General Gvero's
3 responsibility to have oversight over that. Again, because if you have a
4 suddenly high number of criminal acts being committed, violence,
5 soldier-on-soldier violence in a unit, that can be indicative of a morale
6 problem, so General Gvero had his eye on that issue. And given the
7 religious nature of this war, the religious affairs aspect was something
8 that General Gvero was responsible for. That meant liaising with the
9 community, with the religious community, the Serbian Orthodox church
10 basically. And you'll see members of the church involved in various
11 activities, events, celebrations during this trial.
12 Just a quick note. We have the sector for organisation,
13 mobilisation, and personnel affairs. That was headed by General Skrbic,
14 and essentially his sector was responsible for overseeing the
15 mobilisation of people, materiel, as well as the education and assignment
16 of officers. And then we have Djordje Djukic, General Djukic, who was
17 head of rear services, also known as logistics. That sector was
18 responsible, as you can imagine, for procuring, distributing war
19 materiel, the needs of the army, weapons, fuel, clothing, and maintaining
20 the various logistics bases that the army had throughout the war theatre.
21 Now, let's go to the intelligence and security sector. Let me
22 start by just showing you a transcript of an address that General Tolimir
23 made to a particularly contentious RS National Assembly session in 1995.
24 This was in Sanski Most, and some members of the army had come in for
25 some criticism. And I think, as we'll see, General Tolimir described his
1 job obviously pretty well, pretty succinctly. Gathering intelligence
2 about the enemy's strength, plans, and intentions. The organs under his
3 charge have successfully secured information of strategic significance
4 about the political and military leadership, on the basis of which we
5 could obtain accurate assessments about the behaviour of the Serbian
6 enemies and on this basis, and this is what's important, the
7 corresponding decisions.
8 He refers to here his daily intelligence and security reports
9 that he and his staff would compile and send out again to President
10 Karadzic and all the relevant security intelligence bodies in the army
11 and across the river to the VJ. And he says:
12 "Every day I supply this information ... I've sent them since
13 the beginning of the war ..."
14 And you'll see that he takes responsibility.
15 "I am willing to do so for my collaborators who are my
16 understudies when I am absent who process the information ..."
17 He says, I am willing to be dismissed, because he takes
18 responsibility for their work.
19 So basically this intelligence is gathered through a variety of
20 means, informants, captured documents, interrogating POWs, interceptions
21 of radio and telephone communications. And you will also hear that the
22 intelligence administration was responsible for planning and directing
23 reconnaissance actions, which means sending soldiers deep to gather
24 information as well as sabotage.
25 Just briefly, security, on the other hand, versus intelligence
1 entailed three main areas. First, counter-intelligence. It might sound
2 a little odd, but counter-intelligence didn't fall under the intelligence
3 administration; it fell under the security administration.
4 Counter-intelligence is trying to identify and thwart internal enemies,
5 traitors, spies, and denying to the enemy the very kinds of information
6 that you're trying to find out about them. That was what
7 counter-intelligence was about. And with that information the security
8 organs had the obligation to inform their commanders of these threats and
9 to propose ways to counter them.
10 The second area under security was criminal legal duties, such as
11 prosecuting the soldiers for criminal violations and apprehending
12 deserters. Now, it wasn't the security administration that acted as the
13 lawyers, but it was the MPs, for example, the military policemen
14 operating under the security administration who would go out and make the
15 arrests. It would be lawyers usually within an MP or security unit who
16 would be drawing up the initial documents.
17 And third, related to what I just said, the security
18 administration - and this is critical for our case - oversaw the work of
19 the military police units. The duties of the military police included
20 physical protection of key personnel, facilities, traffic control, plus
21 crime prevention activities, like I just mentioned, and, importantly,
22 prisoners of war, escorting, guarding.
23 Now, General Tolimir oversaw both of these administrations, and
24 obviously it makes sense to have one person do that because there's a lot
25 of overlap between the two. Each administration, as you will hear, had
1 its own chief. The chief of the intelligence administration was
2 Petar Salapura, and the chief of the security administration was
3 Ljubisa Beara, and I'll talk about each of those areas in a moment.
4 And as I mentioned before, as the immediate professional superior
5 of Salapura and Beara, General Tolimir could directly issue orders to
6 them and commands within his line of expertise. And he could also pass
7 on orders to them from his own superiors, from General Tolimir's own
8 superiors, like General Mladic or even the president. Of course, if he
9 received an order from the president what he would be duty-bound to do in
10 the first instance was to inform his immediate superior, and that would
11 be Ratko Mladic.
12 In turn, Salapura and Beara were duty-bound to report to
13 General Tolimir and advise him on important developments and make
14 proposals to him and carry out and supervise the implementation of orders
15 that General Tolimir issued or passed on to them. And this was true up
16 and down all the professional lines. That's how it worked. Subordinates
17 were duty-bound to report up to their superiors that they'd accomplished
18 the tasks that they'd been given.
19 Now, General Mladic could directly issue an order to
20 Colonel Beara or Colonel Salapura, but if he did so the first person they
21 would have to inform would be General Tolimir. And that is because he
22 had to know. These were his men. He could not make sound judgements
23 within his own competencies as chief of the intelligence and security
24 sector regarding these incredibly important issues and areas without
25 being fully informed and in full knowledge of what those immediate
1 superiors were doing.
2 And again, Tolimir was answerable to Mladic for the work of men
3 like Beara and Salapura who were immediately subordinate to him.
4 And we will see in July of 1994 -- I beg your pardon, July of
5 1995 how this operated on the ground. You will also hear that
6 recruitment into the VRS's security intelligence organs was done
7 exclusively with the approval of General Tolimir. General Mladic had the
8 final say, but recruitment into that specialised field - and again we're
9 talking about people that are entrusted with intelligence work, with
10 security work. As I mentioned in the beginning, even the life of
11 General Mladic, his personal protection, it was General Tolimir who had
12 that ultimate authority of who went into those units.
13 Now, the Main Staff, as you can see from this chart there are a
14 lot of names here, but the Main Staff was actually a very small tightly
15 knit group of officers. It really came down to a handful of officers day
16 in and day out who got the job done. And the security organs, you'll
17 learn, were particularly tightly knit for some of the reasons I just
18 mentioned, owing to the nature of their work.
19 You'll hear Colonel Beara refer to General Tolimir not as
20 General, sir, but as Toso. You'll hear that that is General Tolimir's
21 nickname. And Bro. Let's listen to just for a couple of seconds an
22 audio tape. We may have to try to keep the volume a little low. This is
23 an intercepted conversation from the 6th of June, 1995, between General
24 Tolimir and Colonel Beara.
25 [intercept played]
1 MR. THAYER: Now, the content of the conversation is of no import
2 for our purposes, but what is important is here you see the relationship,
3 Toso, Ljubo, Bro. And you hear General Tolimir giving instructions to
4 General -- to Colonel Beara, go there and then come here and then go take
5 care of that.
6 You'll hear Drina Corps chief of security Vujadin Popovic
7 contacting General Tolimir directly, seeking his assistance about a
8 personal matter. You'll hear security officers referring to each other
9 as Pop and Nedjo, Colonel Beara referring to Drago Nikolic, the chief of
10 security for the Zvornik Brigade, as Drago.
11 Now, let me spend just a couple of minutes focusing on
12 Colonel Salapura. Again I mentioned some of the ways that the
13 intelligence administration obtained its intelligence, and again it
14 provided expert direction, as we call it, to the subordinate units. If
15 there were an intelligence issue that came up, a problem that came in the
16 brigades through the corps, it would be Colonel Salapura that would have
17 to deal with it, with General Tolimir overseeing, obviously.
18 Now, you will hear testimony that Colonel Salapura also
19 professionally managed the 10th Sabotage Detachment which was a special
20 mission unit that was directly involved in executing prisoners in
21 Branjevo on 16 July and at Bisina on the 23rd of July. And they went out
22 and they performed various sabotage missions, attacks, terror attacks.
23 And again by professional management, when we talk about that we mean
24 recommending the most appropriate use of the unit to the actual
25 commander - in this case it would be Mladic - where, when, and how to use
1 a particular unit and ensuring its combat-readiness.
2 So this was a unit within General Tolimir's intelligence
3 administration. So General Tolimir knows what's going on with the 10th
4 Sabotage Detachment, he's responsible for it. And you will see documents
5 showing General Tolimir directly involved in the recruitment process for
6 the 10th Sabotage Detachment. And we talked a little bit about gathering
7 intelligence from prisoners of war. Both the security administration and
8 the intelligence administration under General Tolimir had interests in
9 prisoners of war. And they both had a role to play.
10 I want to show you a document that is a Drina Corps
11 combat-readiness analysis report. We saw one from the Main Staff a while
12 ago from 1993. I'd like to show you one from January of 1995, just to
13 give you an idea of how this actually worked on the ground. I'm throwing
14 out a lot of general descriptions of what these duties were and how they
15 worked, but let's take a look at how it actually worked. Again, Drina
16 Corps command, 28 January 1995, Drina Corps. Under intelligence and
17 security support they talk about -- they've got a role for electronic
18 surveillance, listening in on radio communications by the enemy. So
19 they're using that. And you will hear a lot of evidence about how the
20 Muslim army did the same and some of the most compelling and damning
21 evidence in this case comes from such electronic surveillance that was
22 conducted by both sides.
23 Here the Drina Corps is reporting that the main source of their
24 intelligence data is interrogating POWs and defectors, again, to obtain
25 all this information about the enemy. And the Drina Corps reports that
1 its handling this process very professionally and responsibly with
2 information being presented to the commands and units in whose zone of
3 responsibility the work is being conducted.
4 And most importantly for our purposes, all this intelligence is
5 being sent to the sector for the Main Staff, and again sector, that's
6 Main Staff, that's going to be General Tolimir's sector, where it's
7 professionally processed and then sent back out to the commands in a
8 useful form. That's part of General Tolimir's job. And we'll see when
9 we get into July of 1995 that questions have to be asked within the
10 security administration -- security intelligence administration by
11 General Tolimir himself when all these prisoners are being taken. What's
12 happening to them? Because they present such a potential wealth of
13 intelligence opportunities, among other reasons.
14 And as I mentioned before, it was the military police under the
15 security administration who handled the escort and guarding of POWs. And
16 again, this isn't just guide-lines in a book. As we see from another
17 Drina Corps command document issued in April of 1995, this one from
18 Vujadin Popovic, who you will hear a lot about, the Drina Corps command
19 security chief. In April he's complaining that they're receiving
20 information that POWs are not being handled properly as they're being
21 taken up to a prison camp called Batkovic, and you'll hear about Batkovic
22 later. And what he specifically complains about is these POWs are being
23 taken through sensitive areas, they're not being secured properly. So he
24 orders that their hands must be tied and they must be blindfolded. Fair
25 enough. You don't want to reveal your troops' positions, you don't
1 people to be able to escape. The point is that this is being
2 communicated, this information about how to handle POWs, by
3 General Tolimir. And we have an excerpt here from June of 1995. Again,
4 he's at a National Assembly session. There's been a complaint raised
5 about a particular politician who had been arrested, and General Tolimir
6 specifically cites that directive that came out of his sector.
7 The point is it's his job to know. He is on top of all these
8 issues all the time and has been since the documents you saw from 1993.
9 And you'll see that it's naturally General Tolimir's sector that
10 issues guide-lines for the interrogation of POWs. And related to this
11 important issue of prisoners of war, you will see documents that
12 demonstrate General Tolimir's responsibility and direction of the work of
13 the RS prisoner exchange commission and the prisoner exchange process.
14 He's the one, you'll see from the documents, that makes these ultimate
15 decisions regarding exchanges. They have these commissions, but the Main
16 Staff through General Tolimir retains ultimate approval authority. And
17 again, this is important because it shows that General Tolimir understood
18 the value of POWs, not only as a source of intelligence but as a key to
19 the release of Serb prisoners who were held in Muslim and Croatian
20 prisons in July 1995. And you'll see that General Tolimir was assisted
21 in this process by Colonel Beara.
22 Now, again we're still in the intelligence administration.
23 Underneath Salapura there were three men that you'll hear a fair amount
24 about. The first is Colonel Radoslav Jankovic. In July 1995 he was
25 dispatched from the Main Staff command post to Bratunac during a VRS
1 attack on Srebrenica. He was there in its immediate aftermath, and
2 you'll see some very important orders and intercepts involving him. And
3 you'll see him on the video of the Hotel Fontana meetings which you've
4 heard about and which you will see in full before too long.
5 The second person to keep in mind is Dragomir Pecanac, who was
6 involved in both security and intelligence matters, and we'll see him
7 passing on information from the field to General Tolimir in July of 1995.
8 And thirdly, you'll see documents from Jovica Karanovic who was
9 based at the Main Staff command post in Crna Rijeka. And you'll be
10 seeing him passing critical information up to General Tolimir when
11 General Tolimir is out in the field in July of 1995.
12 So let's turn to the security administration for a few moments.
13 You've heard a lot already about Colonel Ljubo Beara. Again, his
14 responsibilities were the expert direction of the subordinate security
15 organ commands and units, counter-intelligence, maintain the security of
16 the command posts, draft plans for counter-intelligence, protection of
17 the units, combat support, how to keep the combat plans confidential.
18 And as we've already talked about, the security administration had
19 professional control over the military police units. And this is an
20 important area to understand clearly. The security organs, and
21 specifically the security chiefs who headed those organs, be it at the
22 brigade level or at the corps level - let's just use those as
23 examples - the security chiefs of those organs had professional control
24 over the military police units, if it's a Drina Corps military police
25 unit, the Drina Corps security chief has professional management control
1 over those units. That means he proposes to the actual corps commander -
2 in 1995 in July that would have been General Zivanovic and then General
3 Krstic - proposes to the commander how to use those units. He doesn't
4 actually command those units. The security chief does not have the right
5 of actual command to send those units himself somewhere. He can only
6 propose to the actual commander how to use those units. And he's also
7 responsible for their combat-readiness. And that's similar to how the
8 professional lines worked in the other specialised branches as well.
9 But once the commander, whether it's the corps commander, brigade
10 commander, or General Mladic, made a decision about what the military
11 police were going to do, it was the security chief's responsibility and
12 duty to make sure again that the intent of the order was being carried
13 out properly and fully. And that's what we mean again by this
14 controlling aspect of the security chief's job, the management
15 supervisory role of the security chief. And you'll see, therefore, that
16 Colonel Beara supervised the military police battalion of the
17 Main Staff's 65th Motorised Protection Regiment. That MP battalion had
18 its own commander and was himself commanded by the 65th Protection
19 Regiment's commander, but Beara had professional control over that
20 military police battalion commander. And what that meant frequently on
21 the ground, as you'll see from the testimony, is that for your average MP
22 it was the security chief that for all intents and purposes gave the
23 orders. It was the security chief who that MP considered to be his
24 commanding officer. But in terms of the formation and the way it was
25 supposed to work and did work, they had different responsibilities as
1 commander versus security chief.
2 Now, you'll hear that Beara, like the other chiefs of the
3 departments here that you see at the Main Staff, would attend the daily
4 meetings that we'll talk about in a while of the Main Staff, collegiums
5 as they were called. Beara would obtain information from those meetings
6 and he would obtain information from the field. You'll hear testimony
7 from Dutch peacekeepers that Beara was seeking information in 1995 about
8 what the Muslim army was doing, about what Naser Oric was doing, about
9 army positions that the Muslims had. So he was an important conduit of
10 information flowing directly to General Tolimir, and he would remain so
11 in July of 1995.
12 Now, let's go to another document. This is from October of 1994,
13 and the Main Staff is issuing instructions on how this is supposed to
14 work. Specifically, you can see that there is an 80 per cent/20 per cent
15 split that the Main Staff is directing for intelligence and
16 counter-intelligence tasks versus administrative military police and
17 criminal legal tasks. And here in a nutshell we have what I've been
18 talking about, a description of how this professional chain of command
19 relates to the commander's right of command. Security intelligence
20 organs are directly commanded by the commander of the unit. But with
21 regard to professional activities they are controlled centrally by the
22 security intelligence organs.
23 Here we have it. You can see it in these instructions.
24 "Security intelligence organs at all levels must submit to their
25 superior organ in the professional sense," that means up this
1 professional lines, "... reports ..."
2 And you'll see how important the reporting comes.
3 In the Main Staff -- let me just do a little defining here. When
4 you see VRS GS with that -- what we call a little banana on top, that's
5 VRS Glavni Stab meaning Main Staff. So VRS GS means, in short, the Main
6 Staff. And here the instructions lay out that it is the sector of
7 General Tolimir that takes decisions on transfers, appointments, and
8 assignments to special tasks from their field of work. And again, the
9 recruitment, that's according to special criteria and exclusively with
10 the approval of General Tolimir.
11 Now, you'll hear that the VRS adapted most if not all of the
12 rules of conduct and combat rules from the former JNA to its own needs.
13 That's natural because that's what they were raised as soldiers on. And
14 this included significantly training in the Geneva Conventions, the laws
15 of war. And they were studied at all levels. And on your screen we've
16 got the regulations specifically on the application of international laws
17 of war for the SFRY. This is from 1988. And under the heading
18 "Prevention of Violations of the International Laws of War and Criminal
19 Responsibility for War Crimes," there's a general admonition that
20 everyone is responsible for these kinds of violations. Everybody will be
21 accountable and ignorance basically is no excuse. Okay.
22 Back in 1988 these professionally trained officers also
23 understood that they could be held criminally liable before national
24 courts or before an international court. And it specifically provides
25 that a person organising, inciting, or assisting in the commission of a
1 violation of the laws of war or an accomplice in the same shall also
2 about held responsible as a perpetrator. And that an officer shall be
3 answerable as an accomplice or instigator if he fails to take action
4 against his subordinates who violates the laws of war, he contributes to
5 the repeated commission of such acts by units or individuals subordinated
6 to him.
7 Talking about failure to take action contributing to the repeated
8 commission by units subordinated to him.
9 Now, you'll see that the day after that May 12th, 1992, National
10 Assembly session where President Karadzic issued the Strategic
11 Objectives, the day after President Karadzic signed an order on the
12 application of the rules of international law of war to the VRS. And by
13 another order in August, he made them an explicit part of the duties of
14 VRS members in the service regulations of the army, and that was issued
15 down the chain of command within the army from the Main Staff.
16 So here he we have in October of 1992 from the Main Staff
17 military prosecutor's office these guide-lines. The print is kind of
18 small, so I apologise. But in 1992 this is going out from the Main
20 "Crimes against humanity and international law can be committed
21 by individuals ... but by their nature these criminal offences are
22 usually committed in an organised fashion in the implementation of the
23 policy of the ruling circles."
24 And it goes on to say:
25 " ... which means that they are committed within the context of
1 broad military operations and on orders from superior officers."
2 Again, recognises those former soldiers doing the shooting at the
3 execution sites you'll hear about don't just wake up one morning and
4 decide to go out and do what they did in July of 1995.
5 The next slide, it just catalogues the various offences, among
6 them starvation of the population, murder, causing great suffering or
7 injury to body or health, forcible relocation. And here is the
8 recognition that the officer class bears particular responsibility. From
9 this follows the explicit responsibility of the officer corps of the Army
10 of Republika Srpska as the giver of orders in command of the armed
12 "This responsibility belongs by its nature particularly to
13 high-ranking individuals and officials in state, military, or public
15 "If officers merely found out that units of the armed forces of
16 the Army ... or their members have committed or are committing such acts
17 and take no measures ... this in itself makes them answerable for these
18 criminal offences."
19 Now, another part of the professional training also required that
20 officers assumed responsibility for documents that went out and reports
21 that went out under their name. Before an officer signed his name to a
22 report, he was expected to have read it, familiarised himself with the
23 contents, and determined it to be valid and in good order. And by
24 signing it he indicates his approval of its contents and he has thereby
25 assumed responsibility for it. This was a principle carried throughout
1 the officer class.
2 And once its passed from its subordinate to the superior up the
3 chain of command, responsibility for that document would lie both with
4 the original author but for the person that gets it next.
5 Now, I already spoke about reporting. The reporting in the VRS
6 was vital for the Main Staff. The superior commands had to be kept
7 informed of what was happening, and timely and accurate reporting was
8 critical so that the commander at whatever level could make the accurate
9 decisions, whether he had to change his decision, modify a decision, or
10 stay put. And the reporting also helped a commander verify that his
11 prior commands were actually being carried out. So they served a number
12 of purposes. And you'll hear that the reporting was done according to a
13 regular schedule, and it had to be otherwise there would have been no way
14 to control the process. The lower-level commands had to send their
15 reports up at a certain time so their superior commands could review
16 everything, create their own reports to send them up to the next level of
17 command. So you had battalion, brigades, corps, all compiling their own
18 records after receiving reports from their subordinate commands,
19 analysing them, processing them, and sending them up so that they could
20 be used by the superior command.
21 General Mladic would speak with the corps commanders each day by
22 telephone often. He had to do that later in the evening because
23 oftentimes the situation on the field had changed between the time a
24 report went up to a particular level and made it to the Main Staff or had
25 been processed in the Main Staff. And then all of those reports would be
1 put together at the Main Staff, culled, analysed and put together in a
2 report that went to President Karadzic as I mentioned before. These
3 reports were a vital link between the Main Staff and President Karadzic.
4 They informed him of what was developing, what was important, so he could
5 make decisions as supreme commander of the armed forces.
6 And in addition to this type of reporting, again you also had the
7 reporting that was going up the professional lines of command as we
8 already talked. So you've got two types of reporting that are always
9 going on, always communications going on every day. It was in some ways
10 the life blood of how the army worked.
11 And related to that is the issue of communications. You can't
12 report if you don't have good comms from the field, if you're reporting
13 back to your brigade, if you can't communicate from the brigade to the
14 corps, you're going to be in trouble. So you'll see the efforts that the
15 Main Staff made to ensure that it maintained constant communications with
16 subordinate units, especially because General Mladic would be out in the
17 field, he would send his main assistant commanders out in the field. And
18 you'll see that they were able to maintain these communications by
19 setting up forward command posts. And you'll see the initials IKM over
20 and over again in this case. IKM means forward command post. They would
21 set up IKMs where you would have an officer forward with its own
22 communications equipment. Or sometimes they would utilise the
23 communications equipment of the local brigade or corps. But they always
24 stayed in contact.
25 General Milovanovic will tell you even when he was in the Krajina
1 he was able to speak with General Mladic on an encrypted line, and he was
2 able to contact the Main Staff every day. And you will see during the
3 Srebrenica and Zepa operations General Tolimir communicating with the
4 Main Staff and subordinate units and officers from a variety of
5 locations. You will see General Tolimir issuing proposals, orders,
6 reports, from the Drina Corps command in Vlasenica, from the Rogatica
7 command, from the Drina Corps forward command post in a place called
8 Krivace. You'll see him do it from another forward command post called
9 Borike in a little school in a village near Zepa, near Rogatica.
10 Everywhere he goes, he makes sure he's got good communications,
11 communications officer and equipment. If he doesn't have it, he'll find
12 some way to get it.
13 So as we go and look at these documents you'll see at the top of
14 the document where it's coming from, Drina Corps IKM Krivace. Drina
15 Corps IKM Pribicevac. General Tolimir would not have been able to do his
16 job without being able to maintain these good communications.
17 I just want to again look at the words of General Tolimir
18 describing how the Main Staff in fact operated. Again, this was a
19 contentious meeting at the National Assembly. The army was coming in for
20 some heat for what happened in Srebrenica and Zepa, and more importantly
21 what was happening at that time with the collapse of the VRS defences in
22 the west. But here you'll see General Tolimir responding to a criticism
23 and he says, Hey, we're the smallest Main Staff in the world - again you
24 see this GS with the banana on the top - General Miletic is currently in
25 the Main Staff and it was always so. General Miletic is the operations
1 man. He is the one that stays home to receive all that information and
2 get the information out. General Milosevic, that refers to
3 Dragomir Milosevic, the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps commander, will not be
4 left alone. We are always sending someone from the Main Staff and we are
5 still doing it. There is a forward command post that is stronger than
6 his is and is located in that part of the Sarajevo front. There are two
7 forward command posts of the Main Staff in his zone. Again, this
8 practice of the Main Staff sending its representatives forward. We have
9 been keeping General Milovanovic as the most experienced commanding
10 officer as well as General Mladic, and he misspoke, he meant
11 General Maric, out at this front, this Grahovo-Glamoc front that was
12 collapsing. And winds up saying and summing: We make expert analyses,
13 we prepare directives, and based on those directives we all go in the
14 field and work in accordance with the assignments that we received."
15 That's it in a nutshell. Mladic gave these Main Staff officers
16 these critical tasks because they were his most trusted and experienced
17 officers. And by virtue of the fact that as general officers, that means
18 at the rank of general, they were expected to and did possess the
19 necessary skills regardless of whatever their professional line of
20 expertise was. And you'll see that when General Mladic left the command
21 post in Crna Rijeka he would leave one of his most trusted officers in
22 charge if they weren't already out in the field. And you'll see an
23 intercept where General Mladic tells General Tolimir, "You're taking over
24 completely for me there in command."
25 Before we started looking at the Main Staff structure and
1 operation, we had left off with this combat order to attack Zepa and the
2 Gorazde enclaves and its provisions for moving out the Muslims from those
3 enclaves. And again as I mentioned, the UN issued another resolution
4 making Zepa a safe area. And you'll see that as part of this safe area
5 regime the warring parties were supposed to demilitarise. They signed
6 agreements, pledged to remove all their weapons and hand in their weapons
7 and store them in weapons collection points at various places. And I
8 think one thing we can all agree on, Your Honours, is that the enclaves
9 were never demilitarised. That is not contested by the Prosecution.
10 They were not demilitarised. Some small arms, broken weapons were turned
11 in. But a lot of them weren't, and you'll hear that the Muslim forces
12 were reinforced throughout this period from 1993 all the way to 1995 by
13 air-drops of weapons so that they were able to conduct military strikes
14 outwards from the enclaves, primarily to tie-down Serb forces, draw them
15 away from other areas, keep them stuck to the enclaves, distract them
16 from the Sarajevo front.
17 And you'll see that this created a situation for the VRS that
18 became increasingly problematic. It couldn't afford the manpower and
19 resources to constantly surround and enclose these enclaves where these
20 hit-and-run sabotage attacks were being committed by the Muslim forces
21 operating in violation of the agreements.
22 Let's just take a look at a map which shows the enclave of
23 Srebrenica and how the peacekeeping scheme worked in 1995. You'll hear
24 that there was a battalion of Dutch soldiers who were stationed there.
25 We refer to them as DutchBat for short. They were actually the third
1 rotation, so this -- you'll see sometimes referred to as DutchBat 3.
2 They were based in two compounds. One right next to where it says
3 "Srebrenica" basically, in Srebrenica town they had a base, and the other
4 up in the village of Potocari, which you'll see if you follow that's a
5 road that's running north to south between Potocari and Srebrenica. So
6 they had two compounds, Bravo compound in the south and Charlie compound
7 to the north between Srebrenica and Bratunac.
8 And the way it was supposed to work was the United Nations set up
9 observation posts encircling the enclave. We refer to them as OPs, and
10 you can see them marked there starting from the west, Alpha, and so
11 forth, Mike, Oscar, and Papa, right near the base in Potocari.
12 One OP that will be particularly important for us to pay
13 attention to is all the way down in the south-east corner you'll see an E
14 denoting OP Echo. And that will be a source of dispute, you'll hear, and
15 ultimately you'll hear that it was blasted out by the Serbs as a prelude
16 to their attack on Srebrenica in July of 1995. The OPs were brightly
17 lit, painted white. They were made to be visible. They weren't meant to
18 be surreptitious observation posts. They were supposed to scream, We are
19 the UN, we are here, and we are watching. They were supposed to be
20 watching to make sure that both parties laid down their weapons, but you
21 will hear for a variety of reasons - there's fault to be laid at many
22 feet - they weren't able to do that job. You'll hear that in Zepa the
23 peacekeepers were Ukrainians, about 80 of them in July of 1995.
24 I just want to while we're on this map show you -- point out this
25 very significant road that runs east-west between Bratunac and
1 Konjevic Polje. If you see Bratunac on the right, the top-most marking
2 there, that's a road that runs through Glogova, Kravica, Sandici, then to
3 Konjevic Polje, and it intersects at that point with the road that runs
4 north-south from Milici, if you see that down there, to the west, through
5 Nova Kasaba, Konjevic Polje, and then up north ultimately to Zvornik.
6 You'll hear a lot about this road in July of 1995.
7 Basically what happened was the areas were supposed to be
8 demilitarised, they weren't. There were tit-for-tat attacks.
9 General Tolimir would complain in his intelligence reports that they were
10 happening, and it was true. And in July 1994 after about a year of this,
11 we'll see that in connection with a six-month combat-readiness analysis,
12 General Mladic tours the corps and he meets at the Drina Corps command in
13 Vlasenica with the brigade commanders. And he's briefed by the Drina
14 Corps and brigade commanders. And two days later, two after this
15 briefing on -- in early, early July, I think July 1, in fact, we see the
16 Bratunac Brigade commander. At that time it was Lieutenant-Colonel
17 Slavko Ognjenovic. On 4 July 1994 he issues a report to his brigade.
18 And you can see on this document that this is being distributed all the
19 way to the 3rd Infantry Battalion, so it's going down so that all the
20 soldiers in the trenches are hearing the message in this report. What
21 does he say? He says:
22 "We have won the war in Podrinje but we have not beaten the
23 Muslims completely, which is what we must do in the next period. We must
24 attain our final goal - an entirely Serbian Podrinje. The enclaves of
25 Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde must be defeated militarily."
1 Okay. Sounds like maybe he's talking about straight warfare,
2 crushing the enemy's troops.
3 "We must continue to arm, train, discipline, and prepare the RS
4 army for the execution of this crucial task - the expulsion of Muslims
5 from the Srebrenica enclave."
6 Okay. Well, maybe he's talking about the soldiers again.
7 "There will be no retreat when it comes to the Srebrenica
8 enclave, we must advance. The enemy's life has to be made unbearable and
9 their temporary stay in the enclave impossible so that they leave the
10 enclave en masse as soon as possible, realising that they cannot survive
12 En masse. He's talking about the civilian population which has
13 been the target, as you've seen, going all the way back to Directive 4.
14 And when the commander who you will hear personifies command, that is,
15 sets the example for his subordinates and makes a statement like this
16 that is distributed down to the battalion levels, of course they get the
17 message. And what's important, Your Honours, is that
18 Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic isn't making this stuff up himself. He is
19 passing down to his command what he understands are the objectives of his
20 superior command which he had just met with. And you'll hear that two
21 days later at an Assembly session -- I apologise -- about two weeks later
22 at an Assembly session, President Karadzic in Pale has this to say about
23 the strategic goals in case there were any doubt that they are still
24 viewed as being unfulfilled, uncompleted. He said that the primary
25 strategic aim was to get rid of the enemies in our house, the Croats and
1 the Muslims, and not to be in the same state with them anymore.
2 And so what we see being issued by the Main Staff three days
3 after that speech by President Karadzic is an order. The first item is
4 General Mladic is saying basically the peace agreement setting up the
5 safe areas and the UN peacekeepers, that's all null and void because of
6 the attacks that had been happening. So he says he wants to -- he orders
7 the communication and departure of Muslims from the enclaves at all
8 costs. By "communication," he means the frequent travel between
9 Srebrenica and Zepa that has historically occurred looking for food,
10 running goods, weapons.
11 So he orders that this transport be tightened up and that the
12 Main Staff is going to take further control over this. No equipment is
13 to be allowed into the enclaves, apart from food and medication which are
14 approved by the Main Staff. They're going to have control over this
16 "In the orders they issue, corps commands shall regulate
17 check-points ... thoroughly check all cargo authorised by the ... Main
18 Staff ..."
19 And you will hear about how the Main Staff implemented the strict
20 control over the movement of convoys in connection with the document
21 called Directive 7 you've probably already heard about, and we'll get to
22 that in a little bit. But here we have in 1994 the Main Staff already
23 setting up the mechanism.
24 He wants the enclaves to be fully mined, surrounded. He wants
25 the Muslims not to be able to leave the enclaves. You might be asking
1 yourself, "Well, I thought the whole point was to get them to leave the
2 enclaves," but what he's talking about here is he wants to close them in,
3 pen them in. Don't let them get out, don't let them get weapons to each
4 other, pen them in. That's what's going on here. And then he instructs
5 that the corps and brigade commands shall start basically ramping up
6 their sniping. And then in paragraph 13 he says basically because the
7 Muslims have thrown out the agreement by their sabotage attacks, I want
8 you to take measures to reduce the enclaves to a particular area,
9 geographic area.
10 Now, this reference to reducing the enclaves, the evidence will
11 show - and it's the Prosecution's position - is not the same as what
12 happens in March of 1995 with the issuance of Directive 7. What we have
13 here in 1994 is the Main Staff keeping its eyes on this strategically
14 important area and beginning to turn up the heat. They're not bringing
15 it up to the boiling point yet, but the Main Staff is turning up the
16 heat. And you'll see what happens with its policy of sniping, you'll
17 hear evidence about how the sniping did get ramped up, how civilians were
18 sniped and killed.
19 And I won't show it to you now but you will see being the
20 well-organised disciplined army that the VRS was, General Zivanovic, the
21 Drina Corps commander, adopting General Mladic's order virtually word for
22 word, just putting his name at the end. So we see from 1992 to 1993 to
23 1994 the Main Staff always, always has its eyes on the enclaves. And as
24 we enter 1995, we'll see that the parties have entered a cessation of
25 hostilities agreement and that in connection with that agreement there
1 have been what are called joint commissions formed, where the warring
2 parties are supposed to get together and monitor this cessation of
3 hostilities agreement. And this agreement entailed a number of issues
4 which were of importance to General Tolimir's sector, and you will see
5 General Tolimir personally involved in them.
6 And what we'll see, for example, is Main Staff document 7 January
7 1995. General Tolimir had been attending these meetings. He was
8 actually a signatory to a freedom of movement agreement. He's meeting at
9 the highest levels with UNPROFOR, he's representing the army. And he's
10 keeping President Karadzic abreast of what is going on because these
11 issues directly implicate the enclaves. We'll see number 2. He is
12 telling the corps commands that they are to submit to the Main Staff
13 proposed locations for UNPROFOR observation stations along the lines of
14 disengagement, to see whether they're going to monitor the cease-fire.
15 Now, this isn't General Tolimir issuing a combat order, he's not
16 acting as a commander here. But he is issuing instructions in line
17 certainly with the intention of General Mladic. He is telling the corps
18 commands: You are to submit. And you can rest assured that if
19 General Tolimir writes "you are to submit" they will submit, because they
20 know that he is writing that with the authority of General Mladic.
21 Related to the cessation of hostilities agreement you will see
22 again General Tolimir in February sending out to the corps this
23 notification. He's saying look, we've looked at the maps you sent us
24 where you were supposed to mark the lines of confrontation between the
25 VRS and the Muslim forces. And he's saying: Drina Corps, you did a
1 terrible job, you did a sloppy job. You didn't even demarcate certain
2 areas along the line. And he's talking specifically about Srebrenica.
3 And then he points out: And look, it's not clear who is in control of
4 this Zeleni Jadar factory near this check-point. And what he's referring
5 to there is this OP Echo that I mentioned a few moments ago when we were
6 looking at the map at the south-east corner of the enclave. That
7 observation post is located on a critical east-west asphalt road, and it
8 was critical if the Serbs were going to launch an attack on Srebrenica to
9 have that road and that location secured, and he's talking about that
10 particular area here in February of 1995. It's his job to be on top of
11 this type of intelligence information, and you will see how that plays
12 into his actions in July. And then he gives again instructions:
13 "When going to the field you are to justify all of the disputed
14 issues ..."
15 And then he basically throws the maps back at them and says: Do
16 it right.
17 About a month later we see another document from General Tolimir,
18 March of 1995, March 19th entitled: "Establishment of a security system
19 and control of the territory."
20 What's going on is if you remember that map we looked at a little
21 while ago, that key road from Bratunac that ran east-west to
22 Konjevic Polje and that intersection between the east-west and
23 north-south roads, he's talking about an area basically at that
24 intersection, an area of Konjevic Polje, and he's saying in this
25 communication: We've got unoccupied areas that Muslim forces are going
1 to move into if we don't do something about it. And he sends this to
2 President Karadzic and he proposes to President Karadzic that MUP units,
3 Ministry of the Interior units, get dispatched there. And he talks about
4 both of these roads, the importance of this area to the east-west road
5 and the north-south road, again referring to this area of the Birac and
6 Podrinje. And then he says please inform the Main Staff what the MUP's
7 going to do about it. And you'll see documents, Your Honours, during the
8 trial, that within about 36 hours President Karadzic through his Ministry
9 of the Interior command has made sure that there are MUP police stationed
10 at that intersection. And this intersection will be critical to
11 understand during the events of the murder operation and the forcible
13 I see it's break time, Mr. President, and this is as good as any
14 for me. Thank you.
15 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you, Mr. Thayer. We must break now and
16 have the second break and resume quarter past 6.00.
17 --- Recess taken at 5.46 p.m.
18 --- On resuming at 6.16 p.m.
19 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Mr. Thayer.
20 MR. THAYER: Thank you, Mr. President.
21 Now, during this period in February/March of 1995,
22 General Tolimir, you will see, is receiving intelligence and security
23 reports about the situation in the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves from his
24 subordinates like Beara, who are in the field meeting with UNPROFOR and
25 going to Zepa to gather information. You will also hear that they are
1 receiving information that - and this is in early 1995 - that Muslims are
2 trying to leave the enclaves because of shortages and poor living
3 conditions. It's been that way for, as you've already heard, from early
4 on in the war, no doubt intensified by General Mladic's order that we saw
5 from July of 1994, sealing off the enclaves from each other, basically
6 penning people in, turning the heat up a little bit, but not to the
7 boiling point yet.
8 General Tolimir receives this information and he passes it up
9 once again to President Karadzic and the various intelligence agencies
10 because this is important information to know about these strategically
11 valuable areas. And he's also receiving intelligence information about
12 the military and political leaders in Srebrenica and Zepa. And one
13 example you'll see, there's a Drina Corps intelligence officer by the
14 name of Golic, and he sends up his reporting, his professional chain of
15 command an intelligence report that talks about Muslims from Srebrenica
16 and Zepa leaving the enclaves and lays out the identities of various
17 military -- high-ranking military officers in Zepa, some of the political
19 So in this document you'll see the same Avdo Palic, who you'll
20 hear is the Muslim army leader, the commander of the Zepa Brigade,
21 Hamdija Torlak, Emir Imamovic, these are civilian leaders of the Muslim
22 community. General Tolimir is receiving information about these
23 individuals, and it's going where it needs to go, up from the corps to
24 the Main Staff and ultimately to General Mladic. And you'll see this
25 document from Major Golic and it's got General Mladic's handwriting on
1 it. There's a note written by General Mladic that: General Tolimir --
2 Toso, we should process this and distribute it to the 65th Protection
3 Regiment which is in the area. This must be used. You'll see examples
4 of this how of how this intelligence is going to be employed during the
5 events of July 1995.
6 And again, General Tolimir is receiving this information about
7 the humanitarian situation in the enclaves. So when these terrible
8 events begin to unfold in July of 1995, Srebrenica and Zepa aren't just
9 names in a report, places on a map to General Tolimir; these are areas
10 about which he possesses a deep working knowledge, set against the
11 general Strategic Objectives that we've been talking about all day today.
12 It's important to keep that in mind, that he is looking at these enclaves
13 from both perspectives.
14 And heading further into 1995, the evidence will show that the
15 Bosnian Serb military and political leadership was united in its
16 hardening position regarding the eastern enclaves, as both sides began to
17 foresee a decisive engagement or battle on the horizon that would end the
18 war with respect to this area. They saw some kind of definitive military
19 action coming at some point. You will hear from General Rupert Smith who
20 was the commander of the UNPROFOR forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He
21 was based in Sarajevo, and he'll tell you about meetings that he had with
22 President Karadzic, sometimes alone, sometimes in support of other
23 high-ranking UN officials with, among others, President Karadzic,
24 Mr. Krajisnik, and so forth. Sometimes General Tolimir would be there,
25 sometimes General Gvero. But from early 1995 the conditions were already
1 severe in the enclave and UNPROFOR complained about them to the Serb
2 military and political leaders. And you'll see that the VRS had always
3 restricted the inflow of supplies, humanitarian aid to the enclaves even
4 before March of 1995. But you'll see - and we'll look at the document in
5 a minute - that boiling point, finally the gas being turned on to get
6 there. What we're looking at is another directive. This is Directive
7 number 7. We talked about Directive number 4. This is from March of
8 1995. This is just the cover letter, as it were, distributing it to the
9 corps. It's dated March 17th.
10 And here's the first page. Again, this is the result of the
11 combat-readiness analysis that was conducted earlier in the year in
12 January, all of the highest-level military political leaders get together
13 and decide what the tasks are going to be for the upcoming war -- for the
14 upcoming period of the war. And the Main Staff drafts this directive and
15 issues it in March, and the date of the directive is actually March 8th
16 of 1995. We know General Tolimir is involved in this combat-readiness
17 analysis that spawned Directive 7 and we know that he's involved in the
18 drafting of this document because these are drafted through what we call
19 the full method, where all the assistant commanders contribute their
20 expertise in putting it together as a military document.
21 Now, we'll see that there's a section concerning the main
22 characteristics of the international military and political situation,
23 just as we have in some of the other combat orders where we saw
24 General Tolimir's message being incorporated, his assessments being
25 incorporated, and here we have a very detailed section on the probable
1 objective and plans of the Muslim forces. This again, this is
2 General Tolimir's job. This is his sector's responsibility, knowing what
3 these are going to be to the best of their abilities. And here we are,
4 the assessment that the Muslims are planning a spring offensive, that
5 they're going to focus on linking the enclaves and reaching the
6 Drina River. They're concerned, as we saw in one of President Karadzic's
7 earlier addresses, that the Muslims are going to themselves reach the
8 Drina and create their own what they called the green corridor,
9 transversal Islamic corridor across Bosnia.
10 Now, this information that we see about the assessment of the
11 enemy is clearly reached, made its way into Directive 7, help shape it,
12 steer it. And you'll see in a follow-up directive to this directive an
13 explicit reference to General Tolimir's intelligence reports. This is in
14 the section that we're looking at here devoted to the tasks of the VRS.
15 These are the more general tasks that are being issued, the goals:
16 "While in the direction of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves,
17 complete physical separation of Srebrenica from Zepa should be carried
18 out as soon as possible preventing even communications between
19 individuals in the two enclaves."
20 Again, splitting apart, sealing off, not necessarily an illegal
21 motive. Of course, what the evidence will show is that all along there
22 has always been an illegal motive pursuant to Directives 1 and 3 --
23 Strategic Objectives 1 and 3, move the Muslims out.
24 And this section is immediately followed up by this passage which
25 instructs the Drina Corps:
1 "By planned and well-thought-out combat operations create an
2 unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope for further
3 survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica and Zepa."
4 Now, let's just look at this for a moment. Really, this is the
5 latest incarnation, if you will, from the language of Directive 4 that
6 we've seen as the common thread all throughout this illegal objective
7 targeting the civilian population of these enclaves. This is an illegal
8 motive to create a situation that is so intolerable, to make life so
9 unbearable with no hope for survival that they are going to leave. It's
10 a clear order to create the conditions to deprive the Muslim population
11 of Srebrenica and Zepa, of the necessities for survival. And we'll see
12 in just a moment another part that links with this portion of the
13 directive, that loss of hope of survival is going to be tied to the
14 supply of humanitarian aid to the civilian population and re-supply to
15 UNPROFOR to weaken UNPROFOR. So we have this section here that talks
16 about creating this unbearable situation, no survival for life.
17 The next section talks about another operation in case UNPROFOR
18 leaves, where they will definitively liberate the Drina Valley region.
19 And here we have the section I was just talking about.
20 "The relevant state and military organs responsible for work with
21 UNPROFOR and humanitarian organisations ..."
22 The evidence will be crystal clear that the relevant military
23 organisations responsible for work with UNPROFOR and humanitarian
24 organisations is the Main Staff.
25 " ... through the planned and unobtrusively restrictive issuing
1 of permits, reduce and limit the logistics support of UNPROFOR to the
2 enclaves and supply of material resources to the Muslim population,
3 making them dependent on our goodwill while at the same time avoiding
4 condemnation by the international community and international public
6 Now, let's unpack this little bit. There's a lot in this
7 section. Again, the evidence will be clear that it's the Main Staff that
8 decides what convoys get to go in or not, whether it's for UNPROFOR, for
9 the peacekeepers, or whether it's UNHCR, food, sanitary supplies for the
10 Muslim population in Srebrenica and Zepa. This is talking about the Main
11 Staff and the state military -- the state organ you'll hear is a
12 commission that in the end had to defer to the Main Staff.
13 " ... through the planned and unobtrusively restrictive issuing
14 of permits ..."
15 "Unobtrusively," Your Honours, they're being careful here,
16 they're being smart. The evidence will show that General Tolimir, like
17 General Gvero, always had his eye on the international community, on
18 international opinion. He and General Gvero next to General Mladic were
19 the most public faces of the VRS, interviewed on the news, making the
20 appearances before the National Assembly. It was General Tolimir's job
21 to have that wide field perspective I mentioned before of what was going
22 on in the larger international community, the larger military field of
23 vision, and on the ground as well. That's why they're being smart and
24 they're being careful. They're saying let's do it, let's do it
25 unobtrusively, we'll make them dependent on us and we're going to do it
1 in such a way that we don't trigger UN intervention or international
2 intervention like there was in 1993 when General Morillon came. And
3 you'll hear this theme over and over again. We can't let ourselves be
4 stopped like we were in 1993 when Morillon came in and put those
5 peacekeepers around Srebrenica.
6 So this is a clear order to create the conditions in combination
7 with that earlier section, with that appalling language about making life
8 so unbearable, that the Main Staff sends out to its subordinate commands
9 to implement on the ground.
10 And I'll save a little bit of time I hope and we'll see it some
11 other time, but you will see this language about making life unbearable
12 being repeated word for word by General Zivanovic in his order to the
13 Drina Corps, to whom this is going to, to implement the policy on the
14 ground. Again, these are not just words. These are orders to do things,
15 to create these conditions, and they are taking -- they are taken deadly
16 seriously because they know how this system works in the army. Orders
17 are given, they're meant to be followed, they shall be reported on back
18 up the chain; and if they're not, somebody's going to be held accountable
19 for it. So you'll see General Zivanovic sends that language out: Create
20 these conditions that are so unbearable that we will force them to leave.
21 And this, Your Honours, is where we see the forcible transfer
22 operation starting to the brought to the boil. You'll see sniping,
23 shelling, and the slow steady strangling of these enclaves all throughout
24 the spring of 1995. The Main Staff deliberately restricted these
25 supplies both to DutchBat as well as to the civilian population of
1 Srebrenica and Zepa. This was part of this common plan and organised
2 effort to remove these populations.
3 Let's start with the convoy restrictions. I'm going tell you a
4 little bit about how that worked. It was actually very simple. If
5 UNPROFOR needed supplies, Your Honours, or to rotate its peacekeepers or
6 military observers, they would send a fax over to the Main Staff. There
7 was a colonel there by the name of Djurdjic who was the point person for
8 these requests, but Mladic relied on his top men like General Tolimir,
9 General Gvero, working together to review these requests, make proposals
10 to him. And with respect to the humanitarian aid convoys, as I mentioned
11 there was a so-called RS commission for -- it was a state committee for
12 co-operation with international organisations, humanitarian
13 organisations. The Main Staff had a representative on that committee,
14 and you'll see convoy request after convoy request where the Main Staff
15 says, "We have reviewed the committee's plan. We approve this and this
16 and this, but we deny this and this and this." So it's, as you will see,
17 the Main Staff that ultimately retained the power over what was going
18 into the enclaves and what was not.
19 And you'll see examples of these requests with General Mladic's
20 handwritten notes to Toso, Gvero, your input and opinion, your advice,
21 your proposals. And you'll see, you'll get familiar with
22 General Tolimir's signature and his initials. Sometimes you'll even see
23 General Tolimir's comments written right next to the fax or written right
24 on the fax request.
25 Let me just give you a little sense of what some of these convoy
1 denials were like and how they operated. You'll see a notification
2 signed by General Miletic from March saying that we reduced the plan for
3 the enclaves in number of vehicles and the transport of fuel is not
4 permitted. Despite the information on restrictions, we submitted to the
5 co-ordinating body, we expect that UNHCR will try to bring fuel into the
6 enclaves which has to be prevented.
7 In another convoy denial from March you'll see the following
8 being prevented from going into Srebrenica: Diesel, dry rations, frozen
9 and cold food, water trailer, spare parts. And there's a note.
10 Instructions in the last paragraph: Give information on the convoys that
11 were not approved to check-points and do not relate them to third persons
12 or give any explanation to UNPROFOR representatives, as if you did not
13 receive it. If a convoy appears at a crossing return it to the place of
15 Field beds, hospital beds. From UNHCR a request for convoys was
16 approved by the state committee, and this is from April of 1995, but the
17 VRS denied beef, salt, oil, clavers [phoen] for Srebrenica. This was on
18 the 8th, et 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, and 13th of April, 1995. That
19 material and those supplies were supposed to go in. School supplies
21 You'll see the examples yourselves during trial. I won't take up
22 any more time going through them. Let me just give you one more example
23 that sort of exemplifies the problems that this caused for the UN that
24 was charged with getting this humanitarian aid into the enclaves. This
25 is how it affected by June the UN:
1 "Problems with convoys, both logistics re-supply," that's
2 DutchBat, "and UNHCR," that's the civilians, "continue in many parts of
3 the UNPROFOR AOR," area of responsibility. "The 56 truck convoy bound
4 for the eastern enclaves arrived in Belgrade yesterday. However, the
5 BSA ..." and you'll see that UNPROFOR referred to the VRS as the BSA in a
6 lot of their documents, the Bosnian Serb army, so if you see BSA it's the
7 same thing as VRS. "The BSA has cut the number of trucks from 56 to 23,
8 has cut the amount of food by 50 per cent, and the amount of fuel by 70
9 per cent, has rejected the passage of two ambulances needed for UN
10 troops, and has insisted that those personnel travelling with the convoy
11 to the enclaves must also depart with it. Though no one else may, in
12 other words, preventing any troop rotation or reinforcement."
13 Another element of this policy to unobtrusively restrict the
14 permits was to prevent the rotation of UN personnel. They'd let people
15 out but they wouldn't let fresh peacekeepers come back in. So you had an
16 increasingly undersupplied, underfed, underarmed group of peacekeepers in
17 Srebrenica and Zepa that was dwindling in number. So that by July of
18 1995 you will see just how operationally impaired they were by the time
19 the attack came.
20 Now, when the Main Staff did approve a convoy - and they did
21 approve convoys, they didn't pull the plug completely because they knew
22 that they could only go so far. You'll see over and over again. The
23 evidence in this case will show that General Tolimir, General Gvero, Main
24 Staff knew just how for they could go before triggering international
25 condemnation and action. And it was the action that they were worried
1 about, specifically the deployment of NATO air power in support of the
2 UNPROFOR troops or the insertion of ground forces in support.
3 Now, when the Main Staff did approve a convoy, they had to be
4 checked in Zvornik, depending on which bridge they came over. And you'll
5 see reports from the Zvornik Brigade up to the corps detailing what they
6 have removed from the convoys. Because they know what's approved by the
7 Main Staff and what's not. You'll see, for example, a field steriliser,
8 a veld steriliser that's taken out. That's a medical device. You'll see
9 at one point laundry detergent, cleaning stuff, cleaning fluids, shampoo,
10 towels, all being removed.
11 And General Tolimir was part of this whole process for a number
12 of reasons, one of which was it was the military police units and the
13 security organs which were responsible for the operation of these
14 check-points. You'll see many examples of these convoy notification
15 documents with the words handwritten "security, security organ," or the
16 name of the actual security officer for the brigade written on it,
17 indicating that these requests are going to the security organ.
18 And when the approvals came through you will see that it was the
19 security branch's job to monitor and to enforce this VRS policy of who
20 and what was coming into the enclaves, and there's naturally an
21 intelligence aspect to that. So that's another reason why
22 General Tolimir is responsible for this activity in addition to the
23 illegal motive that's always, always present. But on the ground, on the
24 ground in the Srebrenica enclave for the DutchBat peacekeepers, for the
25 suffering civilians in Srebrenica, the Main Staff convoy procedure became
1 embodied in Momir Nikolic, who you will hear was the security and
2 intelligence assistant commander for the Bratunac Brigade. Because the
3 final check-point for these convoys before entering Srebrenica was in
4 Bratunac at a check-point referred to as Yellow Bridge, near a Dutch
5 observation post Papa. The convoys would be stopped and rigorously
6 checked by Momir Nikolic, and you will see again documents, some with his
7 handwriting on it, one that says "not a single convoy or ICRC team or MSF
8 may enter Srebrenica without my permission and presence."
9 And again, just like Lieutenant-Colonel Ognjenovic in July of
10 1994 isn't just making up this stuff about having to force the Muslims
11 out make life unbearable, Momir Nikolic is receiving his instructions
12 from his superior command. And the Main Staff was well familiar with
13 Momir Nikolic, and you'll see Main Staff documents mentioning Nikolic by
14 name, which they say:
15 "We set out the manner of inspection and requests in this
17 Let's look at another document. Again, this is a document
18 created in connection with a combat-readiness analysis. This one is a
19 sixth-month combat-readiness analysis. You might be getting a sense of
20 how organised and disciplined the VRS was. A brigade putting this report
21 together element by element and under "intelligence-security support,"
22 the report writes:
23 "During 1995, international organisations, and their
24 representatives have passed through and stayed temporarily in the
25 brigade's area of responsibility."
1 And it goes on to say that they were monitored and every single
2 event was reported to the superior organs and the Main Staff. And then
3 it refers to the check-point for the control of all international
4 organisations, and, again, functioning in accordance with the orders of
5 the Main Staff and instructions of the brigade commander.
6 Now, you'll hear how the conditions worsened and worsened from
7 March 1995 until the attack in July. And this unobtrusive issuing of
8 permits by the VRS didn't have to be so severe to create corresponding
9 misery on the ground in Srebrenica because the conditions were already so
10 bad. It didn't take a whole lot of denied convoys to make the people
11 even more hungrier or more miserable or without even the dwindling
12 medical supplies they needed in the enclave. So the corresponding effect
13 was magnified because of the conditions that already prevailed.
14 Added to that you'll hear evidence that the sniping increased
15 during this period of time. And you remember that order about the
16 snipers and the silencers, it was the Main Staff that ran the sniper
17 school, and of course it's the Bratunac Brigade soldiers who were
18 shooting these Muslim civilians. You'll hear about that. That order
19 went out at the same time basically that the Bratunac Brigade commander
20 was talking about making life unbearable for the Muslims, and the sniping
21 got worse and worse and so did the shelling.
22 You'll hear testimony from survivors, witnesses about the
23 intensified shelling during 1995. And you'll see, as we did in 1993,
24 intelligence and security reports from General Tolimir describing this
25 shelling as part of a propaganda campaign, disinformation.
1 And you'll hear about a notorious example of the VRS shelling of
2 civilians that took place on the 25th of May, 1995. On that day in
3 retaliation for NATO air-strikes on an ammo dump in Pale you will hear
4 evidence that the VRS shelled all of the safe areas that day. And you'll
5 hear that in Tuzla over 70 civilians, most of them youngsters,
6 celebrating Tito's birthday were killed when they were celebrating
7 outdoors in the early, the early evening, in the old town. They were
8 killed by massive and deliberate VRS shelling. And you'll hear that
9 almost simultaneously the VRS shelled Srebrenica killing a 9-year-old
10 girl and seriously wounding her sister, and you'll have testimony from
11 that sister who survived.
12 The evidence will show that this was a co-ordinated attack on the
13 civilian population for no other reason than to inflict terror and
15 And you'll hear from witnesses as well about an attack on the
16 24th of June, 1995, you'll hear from a UN military observer. You'll see
17 reports that the VRS inserted the 10th Sabotage Unit, the 10th Sabotage
18 Detachment, to fire on civilian targets in Srebrenica, and that resulted
19 in deaths of civilians as well.
20 Momir Nikolic, the Bratunac Brigade security and intelligence
21 assistant commander will tell you that General Tolimir's direct
22 subordinate, Colonel Salapura, who we talked about earlier, directed that
23 action on the ground. So by late June -- and here we have just one
24 example of many protest letters from the UN. General Smith is protesting
25 to General Mladic that on almost a daily basis he's receiving reports of
1 shelling of populated areas, Bihac safe area, Srebrenica safe area,
2 Gorazde, and Sarajevo, safe areas.
3 And again General Tolimir has his spin ready. After this June
4 24th sabotage attack where civilians are killed in that terror attack,
5 General Tolimir writes:
6 "In the area of Srebrenica there is increased distrust among the
7 population in relation to the military and civilian leadership, and also
8 accusations that they have caused the reprisal of the VRS by the
9 infiltration and action of sabotage and terrorist groups in Serbian
10 territory. The 28th Division command is circulating disinformation that
11 the VRS carried out a sabotage attack on civilian features, wanting to
12 cause condemnation by the international community."
13 Again, this is the message that General Tolimir has been shaping
14 and steering since day one. The MO never changed.
15 You'll hear soon enough about the effects that these restrictions
16 had on the DutchBat peacekeepers and on the civilian population. You'll
17 hear about the meetings that the UN leadership had with the Bosnian Serb
18 political and military leadership, the concerns that were expressed.
19 You'll hear President Karadzic repeating the assessment of
20 General Tolimir that they were expecting the Muslims to try to break out
21 of the enclaves and President Karadzic describing the enclaves as a time
22 bomb about to explode.
23 By July of 1995 the UN peacekeepers who were supposed to number
24 600 were down to 350. They hadn't been permitted to bring in weapons.
25 They had to use the weapons that were used by the prior DutchBat
1 rotations. They weren't allowed to bring in fresh ammunition. They
2 weren't allowed to bring in testing equipment for their anti-tank and
3 other weapons systems. They hadn't been allowed to bring in fuel since
4 February. They were cooking on wood. They had to conduct foot patrols
5 instead of APC patrols so they could not enforce their mandate in that
6 respect. They were living on dried rations because they had no fresh
7 food. Because of the lack of fuel they had to use candle light at night.
8 They didn't have electricity to purify water. And for the civilians in
9 Srebrenica the situation was devastating. UNPROFOR could not support the
10 medical facilities with its medical supplies. People were starving.
11 People were getting killed as they tried to leave Srebrenica for Zepa in
12 search of food.
13 What we're looking at, Your Honours, is a photograph that was
14 taken by a DutchBat officer. These are civilians from Srebrenica
15 gathered around a garbage truck searching for food. And you'll hear that
16 they regularly did this, going through the dumped garbage looking for
17 anything edible.
18 General Tolimir knew what the conditions were like even before
19 Directive 7 began its operation. Again, this is even before this
20 unobtrusive issuing of permits was underway. So you can imagine what the
21 conditions were like, maybe you can't. I don't think I can really
22 imagine what it was like by July of 1995.
23 You'll hear a DutchBat officer, the deputy commander of the
24 battalion in Srebrenica, Colonel Franken refer to it as convoy terror and
25 that's what it was. Directive 7 was implemented efficiently and
1 brutally, and you'll see the effect it had on DutchBat's ability to
2 respond to the military attack that was coming.
3 Now, I see we're at the end of the day and I've actually found
4 myself at the beginning of a new chapter, so I'll pick up there tomorrow,
5 Mr. President -- Monday.
6 JUDGE FLUEGGE: Thank you, Mr. Thayer. Not tomorrow, of course
8 We will adjourn now, but I think we should discuss on Monday at
9 the end of the session the question in which way we should schedule our
10 days, with breaks and the duration of the sessions.
11 We adjourn now and we'll resume next Monday, 9.00, in this
13 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 7.01. p.m.
14 to be reconvened on Monday, the 1st day of
15 March, 2010, at 9.00 a.m.