The Murder of the Ribić Family

Just before Christmas 2015 Bosnian media reported that four young girls, sisters had been identified by forensics experts in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their remains had been exhumed from a large mass grave on a mountain called Crni Vrh (Black Peak) overlooking the town of Zvornik. According to forensics experts; 628 human remains were found in that particular mass grave. Prior to the discovery of the mass grave in Tomašica near Prijedor in the fall of 2013, Crni Vrh was the biggest primary mass grave found in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the mass grave, found in 2006, was over 40/5 meters wide and three meters deep. According to clothes and documentation, ID-cards found in the mass grave, the victims were mostly Bosniaks executed by local Serb forces between April and June 1992 in Zvornik.

However, the four girls identified in December last year were part of the small Roma community in Zvornik, as Muslims their names were enough to put them in the crosshairs of the local Serb forces carrying out the “cleansing of Zvornik”. The four sisters were part of a ten member Roma family from the village of Skočić executed by Serb forces. In the Ribić family, aside from the four identified sisters, two more sisters were executed along with one brother and their mother and father. The remains of the mother and father have been identified and they have been laid to rest. Only one member of the family survived the execution, then 8-year old Zijad (Zijo) Ribić who spoke to Bosnian media in a televised interview in December.

Zijad (Zijo) Ribić´s intreview with FACE TV in December

According to Ribić a group of Serb soldiers came to their house looking for money, gold, anything of value. The Serb soldiers started beating up members of the family and raping the female members of the family. Afterwards the family was loaded up on a truck and taken to Kozluk, a Bosniak majority area with several settlments in the north west area of Zvornik that was “cleansed” in the spring and summer of 1992. Once there, the Serb soldiers told them to get out of the truck. According to Zijad his mother was eight-months pregnant at the time. One of his sisters was raped at the execution spot and the last thing Zijad remembers was the gunfire and someone stabbing him in the throat with a knife. The next thing he remembers was waking up on a pile of bodies. Three years ago the bodies of his mother and father were identified by forensics experts, while two of his sisters and a brother, 2 years old at the time, remain unidentified. Aside from the nine members of the Ribić family, 20 more members of the Roma community in Skočić were murdered by Serb forces during the “cleansing” of that village.

The murderers of the Ribić family were identified as being members of a local paramilitary unit called “Simini četnici” (Sima´s Chetniks) led by Sima Bogdanovič. According to Slobodna Bosna; The unit had been part of the “Yellow Wasps” (  Žute Ose) paramilitary unit operating under the command of  Vojin Vučković in the Zvornik municipality when in the second half of May 1992, several members decided to seperate and form their own unit under the leadership of Sima Bogdanovič. Due to the killings taking place in the Zvornik municipality that spring and summer, the Bosniaks of Skočić decided to leave by the end of June 1992, leaving about 30 Roma civilians in the village.

Bogdanovič died during his trial which took place in Serbia, while other members of the unit were acquitted, their guilty verdicts overturned by the Serbian war crimes court claiming there was not enough evidence despite the testimonies over among others Zijad and other survivors from the village. As well as two members of the former JNA. ( Yugoslav People´s Army).

Marina Kljajić who monitored the trial for the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Fund said after the acquittal that the court established that all the acts of murder for which members of Sima´s unit were charged with  did indeed take place, but that the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence for a guilty verdict. That´s why the court ruled in favour of Sima´s Chetniks. The Serbian war crimes court squashed the first verdict, after the appeals court in Belgrade decided that there had to be a re-trial. During the first trial, two members of Sima´s Chetniks; Zoran Stojanović and Zoran Đurđević recived 20 years for the murders, while Tomislav Gavrić and Zoran Alić were sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Đorđe Šević and Dragan Đekić got five years and Damir Bogdanović got two years.

Zijad stands by the coffins of his newly identifed family members.
Zijad stands by the coffins of his newly identifed family members.

Kljajić believes that the prosecutors of the Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor´s Office did a poor job, that they did not present concrete enough evidence regarding all the accused men, thus enabling the acquittal on appeal. According to Kljajić; “this also sends a bad message to the survivors who are expecting justice, justice isn´t that a court establishes beyond a doubt that the crimes did take place but that the prosecution failed to prove it.”

The unit entered the village, members of the unit destroyed the village mosque, while others were abusing the members of the Roma community in the village. Some were severely beaten; one person was killed on the spot while the rest of the village was taken to Malešići, part of the Kozluk area, and later to Hamzići where they were executed. Zijad Ribić was the only one who survived the executions. Three girls from the village were taken as sex slaves and forced into slave labour for the members of the unit. That charge was included in the indictment. The three girls later testified during the trial of the Sima´s men.

During his interview with FACE-TV Zijad also expressed disbelieve at the appeals court´s decision saying that both he and the girls were there and that they showed that they knew everything about the men indicted for the murders and sexual abuse. According to Zijad it´s as if his and the three women’s testimonies simply didn´t matter.  He was hit hard by the decision of the court and remembers the laughter of the accused in the courtroom once they heard the verdict.

Aside from the testimony of Zijo and the three girls, now women, two members of the JNA, former Yugoslav People´s Army testified at the trial. The two men had according to Zijad protected him from Sima´s Chetniks who were looking for him as he was the only survivor of the massacre. According to Zijad they refused to hand him over despite the requests from Sima and his men. Zijad says that the JNA-men told Sima that they would hand him over to the proper authorities, thus protecting him from a certain death at the hand of the unit. According to Zijad the two men left the JNA after the Serb takeover of Zvornik.

As for Zijad, he was transferred to a children’s home in Montenegro where he stayed until 2001 when he returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina, moving to Tuzla where he still lives and works as cook after completing a cook training program. He´s deeply disappointed in Bosnian institutions whom he doesn´t believe anymore after all the failed promises that they would do something about his case, to try to get some justice for his family. He´s also deeply disappointed in the local Roma representatives who he says have visited him making promises as well but not being able to help him in any concrete way.

A total of 3,936 people were killed or went missing in the Zvornik municipality between 1992 and 1995, according to the Research and Documentation Center. Zvornik was attacked by JNA ( Yugoslav People´s Army), members of Serbian State Security, The Red Berets, as well as various paramilitary units working under the auspicious of Serbian State Security, including Arkan´s Serb Volunteer Guard, Vojislav Seselj´s Chetniks and other units including Radovan Karadžić´s Bosnian Serb extremists. Zvornik was the second town in Bosnia (after Bjeljina) to come under attack.

According to Edina Bećirević´s critically acclaimed study: Genocide on the Drina River, “the calvary of Bosniaks  in Zvornik manifested itself in different ways, from torture, to rape, to mass executions to mass exodus” (page 22,) According to Bećirević as a border town it was Zvornik´s fate to be attacked by Serb forces on the other side of the Drina river. Despite being in the overwhelming majority the Bosniaks of Zvornik were not prepared for war, Bećirević says, and were surprised by the soldiers and the cannons attacking the town from the other side of the Drina river, in Serbia as well as the hatred of their neighbours who did not stand idly by, on the contrary, many played an active role in the genocide.

According to Bećirević a large portion of the Serb population took an active role in the crimes being committed, some offered logistical support to the attackers, other simply by looking away, which as Bećirević notes is a form of passive participation when it comes to the crime of genocide. She cites survivors from villages around Zvornik who say that “local chetniks” as well as their Serb neighbours took part in looting their homes, sexually abusing them, beating and murdering non-Serbs.

The initial attack on Bjeljina (1th of April ) was according to Bećirević a warning to those championing Bosnian independence, and the activities of the JNA and other units from Serbia were intended to deter Bosnian leadership from further seeking independence. (The killing spree by Serb forces under Željko Ražnatović-Arkan in Bjeljina was captured by then young photographer Ron Haviv ) while the attack on Zvornik came few days later (April 8th 1992) taking place two days after the international community had officially recognized Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state. Bećirević notes that one of the six strategic goals of the Bosnian Serb leadership was the removal of the river Drina as border between “Serb lands” (page 25, 26, Genocide on the Drina River)

Another aspect of genocide is the physical eradication of cultural heritage. As American journalist and political commentator Chris Hedges noted in his book ( War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning ) when it came to Zvornik, the town had once had a dozen mosques, and 60 % of the population was Bosnian Muslim ( Bosniaks), by the end of the war, it was 100 % Serb. Hedges writes that in Bosnia, The Serbs desperately trying to deny the Muslim character of Bosnia, dynamited or plowed over libraries, museums, universities, historical monuments and cemeteries but most of all mosques. Hedges recalled how Brano Grujić, the Serb-appointed mayor (The Bosniak mayor of Zvornik was removed after the takeover) telling him and other journalists how “there were never any mosques in Zvornik”.

Hedges wrote that “no doubt Grujić didn´t believe that. He knew that there had been mosques in Zvornik, but his children and grand-children would come to be taught the lie. Serb leaders would turn it into an accepted historical fact. There are no shortages of villages in Russia, Germany or Poland where all memory of the Jewish community is gone because the physical culture has been destroyed”. (page 76)

Excerpt from the documentary Death of Yugoslavia, dealing withe Serb attack on Zvornik with commentary by among other Vojislav Šešelj, leader of the Serb Radical Party who´s paramlitary unit, at the request of Slobodan Milošević  took part in the attack. As well as Spanish writer and politican Jose Maria Mendiluce´s comments, Mendiluce as a member of the UN Refugee Agency witnessed the attack, including the JNA artillary firing into Bosnia from across the border, as well as seeing several lorries full of bodies being taken away from the streets of Zvornik.

This post has been uppdated and edited 2016-02-02 & 2016-02-04

Joint Criminal Enterprise

Perisic and Milosevic
Perisic and Milosevic

On 28th of Febuary the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted on appeal Momcilo Perisic, the former Chief of Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia. He had originally been sentenced to 27 years for his role in assisting and supporting war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia. The trial chamber originally found Perisic guilty of assisting and supporting the killing of around 8,000 Bosniak civilians and displacing the Srebrenica population in July 1995, artillery and sniper attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and for the rocket attacks on Zagreb in May 1995. Sadly his acquittal means that so far nobody from the former JNA high command has been convicted by the ICTY for war-crimes in Bosnia. After sixteen years of existence this has to be considered to be a monumental failure on the part of the ICTY. As someone already remarked; whether it´s a failure of the prosecution or the judges is certainly open to debate. And it has been debated furiously ever since.

The decision follows another controversial decision from November last year to acquit two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. There was certainly no shortage of evidence against Perisic, he had from the moment he took over as Chief of Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia from Zivota Panic, actively supported both the rebel Bosnian Serb army (VRS) under the leadership of Radovan Karadzic and the rebel Croatian Serb army (RSK) under the leadership of Milan Babic and Milan Martic.

One of the reasons for the acquittal given by the appeals chamber was that the trial chamber did not Identify VRS (The Bosnian Serb Army) as a criminal organization per se and that only some of their actions were criminal, the appeals chamber writes ;

“With respect to the first inquiry, the Appeals Chamber recalls that the Trial Chamber did not characterize the VRS as a criminal organization; indeed, it stated that “Perisic is not charged with helping the VRS wage war per se, which is not a crime under the Statute. Having reviewed the evidence on the record, the Appeals Chamber agrees with the Trial Chamber that the VRS was not an organization whose actions were criminal per se; instead, it was an army fighting a war. “

However the appeals chamber goes on to say that the Trial Chamber did find, “that the VRS’s strategy was inextricably linked to crimes against civilians” but that it also was an army fighting a war, and that the Trial Chamber limited its findings to characterizing as criminal only certain actions of the VRS and the appeals chamber agrees with that. That is clearly problematic, and contradictory, certainly crimes are committed during wartime, and crimes were committed on all sides but claiming that the VRS was simply an army fighting a war and that during that time it “committed crimes” shows a lack of understanding for the nature of the Bosnian War both from the prosecution and the appeals chamber. The JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) planned thoroughly the invasion and dismemberment of Bosnia.

It also flies in the face of other verdicts concerning amongst other Sarajevo. In the Stanislav Galic verdict the trial chamber concluded that;

the evidence demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Sarajevo civilians were indeed made the objects of deliberate attacks by VRS forces. The Chamber heard from local witnesses who had experienced multiple attacks in their neighbourhoods. They were attacked while attending funerals, while in ambulances, trams, and buses, and while cycling. They were attacked while tending gardens, or shopping in markets, or clearing rubbish in the city. Children were targeted while playing or walking in the streets. These attacks were mostly carried out in daylight.

They were not in response to any military threat. The attackers could for the most part easily tell that their victims were engaged in everyday civilian activities. The topography of Sarajevo, with its ridges and high-rise buildings, provided vantage-points for VRS personnel to target civilians in the city. Certain locations in Sarajevo became notorious sniping spots. For example, several witnesses testified that the main thoroughfare in Sarajevo was known as “Sniper Alley”. Although civilians adapted to some extent to the frequent attacks, by closing schools, by living at night and hiding during the day, by moving around Sarajevo as little as possible, and by setting up steel containers to shield against sniper fire, they were still not safe. They were still seen and targeted. There was little effective protection against shelling.

This was the reality of life during the 44 month long siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege of a capital city in modern time, a siege that cost the lives of 11541 people. The fact that the VRS engaged in combat with the defending Bosnian Army at the same time does not mean that the criminal nature of the VRS should be ignored, to quote Florian Bieber;

First, the purpose of the VRS seems hard to reconcile with lawful combat activities, second arguing that not all activities were criminal is about as convincing as stating that the Mafia is not only involved in criminal activities and thus supporting it does not mean that one is “aiding and abetting” criminal activities.

The other reason given for the acquittal is that Perisic had no way of knowing that the support that the VJ (Yugoslav Army) gave to the Bosnian Serb Army, would go to the commission of crimes. Now certainly the evidence presented by the prosecution can be interpreted differently but the assertion that Perisic did not know that the support Belgrade and the VJ was giving to the Bosnian Serb Army would be going to the commision of crimes is hard to swallow for anybody with any kind of insight into the horrors of the Bosnian War. Or any kind of insight into the previous verdicts of the tribunal. Or even those who tuned in to watch the news every night for the three and a half bloody years. The sense of disbelief at the conclusion that Momcilo Perisic couldn´t have known that the equipment he was sending to Bosnia and Croatia would be used for other the ”lawful combat” is difficult to shake of, and even more so now a good month and a half after the verdict.

At the end of 1991 the JNA started dismantling and disarming the Bosnian Territorial Defense, and handing over those Bosnian weapons to Serb nationalists and extremists loyal to Karadzic and his party SDS. That left Bosnia pretty much defenseless against the might of the Yugoslav People’s Army and their massive arsenal. During the months leading up to the attack on Bosnia SDS leaders in Eastern Bosnia began with the recruiting, equipping, and apparent training of the new “Serb Territorial Defense” Also leading up to the attack, there were military exercises organized by the JNA in which only Serbs participated. At the end of March 1992, paramilitary units and units of the Serbian State Security apparatus, most prominently Arkan´s Tigers and the Red Berets assisted by the Yugoslav Army and their heavy weaponry crossed the border into Bosnia and joined up with the members of Radovan Karadzic´s SDS and the “Serb Territorial Defense” and attacked towns and hamlets all along the border and along the Drina Valley.

Most of the towns fell in a matter of days; the Bosnian government had tried to negotiate with Belgrade with the JNA and the Bosnian Serbs and had done gone out of its way to provoke neither the Bosnian Serbs nor the JNA. It had certainly not started preparing for a war, and had at the start of the invasion of Bosnia, no standing army other than a few poorly equipped units and those policemen and members of the Interior Ministry that had stayed loyal to the Bosnian government. The Bosnian government naively believed that it could avoid war and that it could prevent the bloodshed that followed. Ed Vullimy summed up the Bosnian government’s official policy towards the Bosnian Serb rebellion in his book Seasons in Hell; ( Vullimy, page 74-75)

the government´s official policy was as the deputy president Ejup Ganic explained “ to try and slowly defuse the mine so as to prevent it from exploding” We´re just talking, talking. When you are face to face with a wolf the only option is to work with it until it becomes a pet. There was however nothing domesticated about the wolves stalking the Serbian-held hills above Sarajevo.

Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs played along and negotiated with the Bosnian government all the while they were in fact preparing an invasion. They were simply buying time until they could put their plan into action. By then Slobodan Milosevic was in full control of the JNA but he was to cunning to use it openly against Bosnia. The leadership in Belgrade opted for a more Machiavellian method.

They relocated every Bosnian Serb serving in the JNA to units in Bosnia, this way most of the command chain, weaponry, and higher-ranked military personnel, including General Ratko Mladić, (who is Bosnian born) remained in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Army of Republika Srpska (Vojska Republike Srpske, VRS) as the armed forces of the newly created Bosnian Serb republic. According to the UN report on the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, in April when the war broke out the JNA had some 80,000 troops deployed there, as well as armour that was coming back from Croatia had come through Bosnia. Much of it simply changed hands, and the former JNA soldiers changed uniforms and seemingly overnight the newly formed Bosnian Serb Army found itself with some 80 000 well equipped and well trained soldiers as well as a wast array of heavy weapons, all handed to them by the JNA. In fact, it´s officers were on JNA´s payroll and continued to be so during the entire war, and well after the Dayton peace accords. As it was shown during the trial of Momcilo Perisic, both the VRS an the RSK (Republika Srpska Krajina) were dependent on funds and logistical support from Belgrade. Without the help of the reformed Yugoslav army (VJ) the two rebel Serb armies in Bosnia and Croatia could not have continued fighting for very long.

According to the same UN report, in August 1991, Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic released a tape recorded conversation between Serbian President Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. The recording revealed that Milosevic instructed Karadzic to receive delivery of weapons. The arms would be supplied by General Nikola Uzelac, the head of the Banja Luka Corps of the Yugoslav People’s Army.

In 2008 during the trial of Vojislav Seselj, prosecution tendered into evidence tapes and transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations from 1991 and 1992, in one of those conversations, this one between Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic from 8th July showed how the Joint Criminal Enterprise worked and the control that Milosevic had over the JNA. In the recording, ( the same one Ante Markovic realesed in august 1991) Milosevic can be overheard giving instructions to Karadzic;

to get in touch with General Uzelac, the commander of the Banja Luka Corps of the JNA. General Uzelac was to provide arms and helicopter transport for all Serbian Democratic Party volunteers supposed to reinforce the ‘Banja Luka group’ in the Bosnian Krajina and in Kupres.” This was ‘of strategic importance for the future RAM’. Milosevic then went on to praise ‘the lunatic Seselj’ for having violently and vulgarly attacked Serbian opposition for their criticism of the JNA.

The UN report goes on to say that Slovenian newspaper Delo, published a story about a plan developed by the JNA to supplement the already existing RAM-plan about the dismemberment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Delo the plan reportedly called for the mass killings of Bosniaks (Muslims) and the use of mass rapes as a weapon of psychological warfare. According to the Delo article, the JNA plan stated that, “analysis of the Muslim’s (Bosniaks) behavior showed that their morale, desire for battle, and will could be crushed most easily by raping women, especially minors and even children, and by killing members of the Muslim nationality inside their religious facilities”

By the end of March the stage was set for the dismemberment of Bosnia, Serbian paramilitaries backed by the Yugoslav Army and local fighters loyal to Radovan Karadzic SDS attacked Bjeljina in North Eastern Bosnia. As reports of the terror in Bjeljina reached Sarajevo the presidency, the Bosnian government decided to send a delegation to investigate what had happened in the town, one of those sent was Biljana Plavsic a Bosnian Serb and member of the SDS, she was for a time inmate at a women’s prison here in Sweden not long from where I live, she had been sentenced to 11 years for war crimes in Bosnia. Upon her arrival in Bjeljina she was greeted by Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan, who´s forces had participated in the attack on Bjeljina. Arkan too had a past in Sweden he had robbed banks and had also worked as a hitman for the Yugoslav Security Services, now he was working for Milosevic. She embraced Arkan, affectionatelly calling him a “Serbian hero” and thanked him for “saving the Serb population of Bjeljina from Muslim Genocide”

That if anything showed the dire situation in which Bosnia was in, the state was from the onset doomed, it had no army, and those willing to fight had no weapons, aside from rag-tag poorly armed units and those police units that had stayed loyal to the government, they would however play an crucial role in the weeks ahead. The civil defense groups were poorly armed, as well as the various armed groups that had formed independently. And most importantly there was no cohesion. Which is what the JNA and the Bosnian Serbs were depending on for their attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pattern from Bjeljina was repeated in other towns along the border with Serbia. Local SDS officials the Serbian territorial defense together with Serbian paramilitary units such as Arkan´s Tigers as well other units from Serbia were in charge of the attack backed by the heavy artillery of the Yugoslav army that pounded the towns from across the border.

In some instances foreign eye witnesses such as members of the UNCHR were present and could later testify as to what they saw, one of them was José Maria Mendiluce, who witnessd the ethnic cleansing of Zvornik. According to Mendiluce, Yugoslav artillery shelled Zvornik from the Serbian side of the Drina river while units of the Red Berets (Serbian state security) and Arkan´s men togheter with The White Eaegles paramilitary group rampaged thru the town. According to Mendiluce , he could see four or five trucks filled with dead children, women and old people. They were dumped on the trucks by serb militiamen. In an excerpt from “This Time we Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia”, Mendiluce comments on what he saw in eastern Bosnia;

I saw kids put under the threads of tanks, placed under there by grown men, and then run over by other grown men. … Everywhere people were shooting. The fighters were moving through the town, systematically killing all the Muslims they could get their hands on.

These people had a coherent strategy. The whole point was to inflict as much terror on the civilian population as possible, to destroy as much property as possible, and to target as much of the violence as possible against women and kids. After the irregulars had done their work, the established authorities — the JNA [the federal army of the former Yugoslavia which since the breakup has been in the service of Milosevic of Serbia] or Karadzic’s forces, or the local police — would come in, ostensibly to restore order. But of course, that would mean that the ethnic cleansing of that particular place had been successful, and the White Eagles could move on.

But things were about to get worse, in the coming weeks more and more towns and hamlets across along the Drina Walley fell to pray to the Serb onslaught, Rudo, Visegrad, Foca, Cajnice, and Rogatica, while in the north east, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Srebrenica fell into the hands of the serb paramilitaries. The pattren was the same in all those places, the towns were shelled by the Yugoslav Army while paramilitary units went in to ”sweep” the area.

Approximately six weeks into the campaign the Bosnian Serbs controlled some 60 percent of Bosnia, and by June 1992 some 750 000 people mostly Bosniaks and Croats had been “ethnically cleansed” from large portions of Eastern-Northern and North West Bosnia, all in a bid to link those territories with the Krajina region in Croatia and Eastern Slavonia, those regions had fallen prey to the JNA and various Serb paramilitary units during the summer and fall of 1991. The pattern from Croatia was now repeated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That Momcilo Perisic had no way of knowing the true nature of the VRS and the campaign being waged in Bosnia is hard to believe, looking at the SDC transcripts, it´s clear that he was very active in lobbying for more comprehensive assistance to the Bosnian Serbs and the Krajina Serbs. To argue that Momcilo Perisic couldn´t have known that the support he was giving to the Belgrade´s clients was going to the commission of crimes mean that he would have had to have lived in a vacuum those three and half years.

One must also remember that during it´s now 20 years of existence the tribunal has indicted over 160 people, most of them members of the Bosnian Serb army or security forces, as well as members of the Serbian state security and above all Slobodan Milosevic.

Most of those indicted have been found guilty of crimes against humanity, Dusko Tadic, former SDS leader in Kozarac and a former member of the paramilitary forces supporting the attack on the district of Prijedor, was found guilty of crimes against humanity for his actions in the Prijedor region, including the Omarska, Trnopolje and Keraterm detention camps.

Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Stakic rose to prominence, during the May 1992 Serb takeover of the municipality of Prijedor. According to the judgement;

the takeover was an illegal coup d’état which had been planned and coordinated for months and which had as its final goal the creation of a Serbian municipality eventually to form part of an envisaged pure Serbian state.

A comprehensive pattern of atrocities amounting to a campaign of a persecutorial nature was proved to have been committed against non-Serbs in Prijedor municipality in 1992. This included killings on a massive scale in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, in Bosnian Muslim towns and villages throughout the municipality, and, finally, on Mount Vlasic. The Trial Chamber held Dr. Stakic responsible for more than 1,500 killings and was able to identify by name 486 victims. Rapes, sexual assaults and beatings were committed at the camps and at least 20,000 non-Serbs either fled Prijedor or were deported.

Radislav Krstic the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Drina Corps was the first person to be convicted for genocide by the tribunal, for his and the roll the Drina Corps played in the Srebrenica Genocide. According to the appeals chamber judgment was found guilty of;

aiding and abetting genocide, aiding and abetting murder (violation of the laws or customs of war), aiding and abetting extermination, aiding and abetting persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds.

Among the grievous crimes this Tribunal has the duty to punish, the crime of genocide is singled out for special condemnation and opprobrium. The crime is horrific in its scope; its perpetrators identify entire human groups for extinction. Those who devise and implement genocide seek to deprive humanity of the manifold richness its nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions provide. This is a crime against all of humankind, its harm being felt not only by the group targeted for destruction, but by all of humanity.
The gravity of genocide is reflected in the stringent requirements which must be satisfied before this conviction is imposed. These requirements – the demanding proof of specific intent and the showing that the group was targeted for destruction in its entirety or in substantial part – guard against a danger that convictions for this crime will be imposed lightly. Where these requirements are satisfied, however, the law must not shy away from referring to the crime committed by its proper name. By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction

the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity. The Bosnian Serb forces were aware, when they embarked on this genocidal venture, that the harm they caused would continue to plague the Bosnian Muslims. The Appeals Chamber states unequivocally that the law condemns, in appropriate terms, the deep and lasting injury inflicted, and calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide. Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act.

Biljana Plavsic, a former biologist a university professor and member of the SDS as well as the former Bosnian Serb president, and one of Radovan Karadzic close associates was found guilty on grounds of;

Persecution on political, racial and religious grounds. In her role as co-President of the Serb leadership, acting individually and in concert with others in a joint criminal enterprise, Biljana Plavšić participated, planned, instigated, devised and executed the persecutions of Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb populations in the following 37 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Bileća, Bosanska Krupa, Bosanski Novi, Bosanski Petrovac, Bratunac, Brčko, Čajniče, Čelinac, Doboj, Donji Vakuf, Foča, Gacko, Hadžići, Ilidža, Ilijaš, Ključ, Kalinovik, Kotor Varoš, Nevesinje, Novi Grad, Novo Sarajevo, Pale, Prijedor, Prnjavor, Rogatica, Rudo, Sanski Most, Šipovo, Sokolac, Teslić, Trnovo, Višegrad, Vlasenica, Vogošća and Zvornik.

She embraced and supported a campaign of ethnic separation which resulted in the death of thousands and the expulsion of thousands more in circumstances of great brutality. Plavšić contributed to the campaign of ethnic separation in various different ways, by inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force, and by encouraging participation through public pronouncements justifying the use of force against non-Serbs in the territory.

One of Biljana Plavisic´s most infamous statements came at the height of the Serbian campaign to create a “state for all serbs” in 1993 she said that ;

Thats true [i.e. that the Bosnian Muslims were originally Serbs]. But it was genetically deformed material that embraced Islam. And now, of course, with each successive generation this gene simply becomes concentrated. It gets worse and worse, it simply expresses itself and dictates their style of thinking and behaving, which is rooted in their genes…

(Svet, Novi Sad, 6 September 1993).

As a concrete example of her thesis about Bosniaks being ‘genetically deformed material’, she used Ejup Ganic: “I have never met a more deformed person than him in political circles, which abound with such deformed people.

(On, Belgrade, 12 November 1996).

This has led, she further ‘explained’, to a degeneration of the Serb people, as a consequence of the ‘mixing of blood’: ‘We are disturbed by the fact that the number of marriages between Serbs and Muslims has increased… because mixed marriages lead to an exchange of genes between ethnic groups, and thus to a degeneration of Serb nationhood.

(Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, May 1994).

Of all the members of the Bosnian Serb political elite, Plavsic´s statements thruought the war are the ones that resembeled the Nazi ideology of racial purity. Other members of the Bosnian Serb political elite that have been sentenced for crimes against humanity in the war in Bosnia are; Momcilo Krajisnik guilty of being a member of joint criminal enterprise which carried out persecution and deportation of Bosniaks Croats and other non-Serbs. He was the co-founder of the SDS and a member of the Republika Srpska Presidency.

More recently, in March this year Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin were convicted of persecution on political, racial or religious grounds. Both men were a part of a Joint Criminal Enterprise and committed or individually instigated or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation or execution of persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; murder; torture; cruel treatment; inhumane acts; deportation and forcible transfer committed against the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat populations in the municipalities of Banja Luka, Bileća, Bijeljina, Bosanski Šamac, Brčko, Doboj, Donji Vakuf, Gacko, Ilijaš, Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Pale, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Skender Vakuf, Teslić, Vlasenica, Višegrad, Vogošća and Zvornik.

Stanišić was head of the Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry while Župljanin was chief of the Regional Security Services Centre in Banja Luka member of the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK) Crisis Staff, and an advisor on internal affairs to the President of Republika Srpska (RS)
While the two of the most prominent members of the Bosnian Serb military and political elite, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still on trial indicted for “genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, acts of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among the civilian population, unlawful attack on civilians, and taking of hostages”

As I wrote before, this acquittal has been debated furiously, and my own thoughts on it are more the clear, for whatever that´s worth. One thing is perfectly obvious, the fact that the VRS was engaged in lawful combat against the defending Bosnian Army does not and should not obstruct the fact that most of the Bosnian Serb political and military leadership as well as high ranking members of the police and Ministry of the Interior have been found guilty of genocide,murder,persecution on political, racial or religious grounds cruel treatment and other inhumane acts in municipalities all across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We must not forget that Vojislav Seselj, former leader of the Serb Radical Party is still awaiting judgemnet, he was by far the most vocal suporter of the idea of a “Greater Serbia” and he collaborated from time to time with Milosevic sending his ultra nationalist Chetnik volonteers to fight in both Croatia and Bosnia. Other still awaiting judgements are Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. Simatovic was the was the head of the Serbian secret police of Slobodan Milosevic, the Special Forces of State Security of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Jovica Stanisic was former head of the State Security Service within the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and a close ally to Milosevic. Both men are charged with crimes committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

If nothing else the Perisic trial showed the reasoning of the Belgrade regime in dealing with their Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb clients. On May 11 2011 Sense Agency reported that since the seal of confidentiality had been lifted from some of the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council meetings the public could see what the Trial Chamber saw in the Momcilo Perisic trial, on 9 December 1992 Slobodan Miloevic argued that the VJ (Vojska Jugoslavije /Yugolsav Army) and the Supreme Defense Council should try to assist ”them” the with the most necessary things and what assets, technical equipment etc. they need’. ”Them” being the Serb armies in Krajina and Bosnia that fought in the wars in which “Serbia didn’t participate”. Two months later Zivota Panic, Momclio Perisic´s predecessor reported to the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council that ”VJ gave complete equipment to form one corps to the Serbian Army of Krajina (SVK). Panic also said that ‘there have been great demands for the infantry ammunition, but the biggest problem is with purchase of artillery ammunition and tank ammunition”.

The minutes form the Supreme Defense Council meeting on 10 February 1993 show that the Bosnian Serb army the Republic of Serbian Krajina were in fact dependent on Serbia for its war effort, according to then fedral prime minister Radoje Kontic;

the financial situation in the Yugoslav Army was more than tragical, since the army had requested 800 million dollar for that fiscal year, with the “ Republic of Serbian Krajina requesting 341 million dollars per month, and the total budget of the FRY amounts to 320 billion per month” Kontic said that ”if there is a need for helping the Republika Srpska, we have to do it again from the fund for special purposes because the Army has no funds for such purposes. I can assure you that in four to five months we will face a situation where Topcider [printing enterprise] will not be able to print that amount of money. The situation is more than tragic.

During this time the Supreme Defense Council was made up of names like Dobrica Cosic who at the time was the Yugoslav president as well as Serbia´s offical national guru, others were the president of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic Zoran Lilic and of course Slobodan Milosevic. In august 1993 Momcilo Perisic replaced Zivota Panic as Chief of the General Staff of the VJ. The minutes of the Supreme Defense Council clearly show that Perisic continued to provide large quantities of weapons, ammunition, materials and other logistical support to both the Krajina Serbs and Bosnian Serbs, according to the minutes Perisic argued that the Bosnian Serbs and Serbs from Serbia were ‘single people’ which can be interpreted as of course an argument for the continued support of the Bosnian Serb war effort. The minutes also show that he argued strongly for continued aid to both the Bosnian Serbs and the Krajina Serbs thruough the war, including some 66 million for medical aid which the VJ (Yugoslav Army) had been providing to all the wounded soldiers from Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. By early 1994 the amount required by the VJ (Yugoslav Army) was 2,325,000,000 dollars, this of course included the needs of the Army of Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The minutes also show that Perisic requiested funds the for”training and education’ of 4,100 soldiers from Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

Karadzic Milosevic and MIlan Martic
Karadzic Milosevic and Milan Martic

According to Sense Agency:

850,000,000 of that went to the VRS and SVK. Almost 27 million dollars were earmarked to cover the payroll for about 16,000 officers. According to the minutes of the 19th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, the Bosnian Serbs expected the FRY to give them 522 million dollars. The money was supposed to pay for ‘equipment, scientific research work, construction of military facilities and configuration of terrain, housing construction and strategic war reserves’. At the 22nd meeting of the Supreme Defense Council held on 11 July 1994, defense minister Pavle Bulatovic delivered the message from the VRS and the SVK: ‘Unless they receive assistance, this state will bear responsibility for their future.

It´s clear from the SDC minutes that while the VJ (Yugoslav Army) had provided logistical support to the Bosnian Serb Army and the Army of the Republic of Srpska Krajina, according to the Trial Chambers verdict;

Assistance became more centralized, structured and coordinated during his tenure. General Perišić organized a procurement procedure for the Yugoslav Army General Staff to review requests for logistic assistance. He also regularly met and conferred with General Mladić and General Čeleketić, the VRS and SVK’s respective Commanders, about their armies’ military needs. General Perišić and the Yugoslav Army General Staff did not grant all requests for assistance, although they approved a substantial proportion of them, including millions of infantry bullets and thousands of shells. For instance, in 1994, the VRS Main Staff estimated that it had obtained from the Yugoslav Army over 25 million infantry bullets and over 7,500 shells, among other ammunition.

A large number of VRS and SVK officers were drawn from the ranks of the Yugoslav Army. They officially remained members of the Yugoslav Army even as they were fighting in Bosnia and Croatia under the banners of the VRS and SVK. General Perišić proposed and carefully implemented the idea to create “Personnel Centres” to regularize the status of these officers and allow them to lawfully remain part of the Yugoslav Army. VRS officers retained their salaries and benefits as Yugoslav Army members through what was known as the 30th Personnel Centre, and SVK officers through the 40th Personnel Centre. General Perišić further intended the Personnel Centers system to help legalize the deployment of additional personnel to these armies. In December 1993, General Perišić stated that there were over 7,000 Yugoslav Army officers serving in the VRS and SVK through the Personnel Centers. While many officers voluntarily accepted transfer, General Perišić made clear that those who refused to be sent to the VRS or SVK would be dismissed from the Yugoslav Army in one way or another. General Perišić and other leading Yugoslav officials sought to keep the real function of the Personnel Centres secret in order to avoid further criticism or sanctions from the international community.

The minutes from The Supreme Defense Council are of course a veritable goldmine, since it´s basically all there, in black and white when it comes to who did what, and above the state of mind of those involved. It gives a more complete picture, of Milosevic´s inner circle and the mechanisams put in place both in Croatia and Bosnia. On 16 March 1994 Perisic ‘personally proposed’ that Belgrade set up an air-defense system for the VRS, the Bosnian Serb Army, which would be integrated into the VJ system. In September 1994 Momir Bulatovic, then president of Monte Negro argued that the Yugoslav Army should provide the VRS with “ammunition for 76mm mountain cannons and 76mm pack howitzers” saying that the request had come to him from Ratko Mladic and that Mladic was still ”the most reasonable option and alternative in Republika Srpska”

The mechanisms put in place by the regime in Belgrade have been dissected in numerous trials over the past sixteen years. It´s clear who did what and where, most of it is in black and white with the trail leading back to Knin Pale and above all Belgrade. Yet to this date no member of the JNA or VJ high command has been convicted by the ICTY for war-crimes in Bosnia nor have any members of regime in Belgrade been convicted for crimes in Bosnia. With the death of Slobodan Milosevic also died the great opportunity ICTY had to at least show that the main architect of aggression and genocide would not escape justice, sadly Milosevic died before his trial was finished, it had by then gone on for four long years.

Many attribute the failure to finally convict Milosevic to the fact that he was allowed to defend himself, and that court found itself hostage to his tendentious, time-consuming diatribes. The court seemed, in my opinion anyway, feeble in dealing with Milosevic and for those of us following his trial it seemed clear that he got away with more than most defendants would have, and he did it time and time again. He was after all indicted on 66 counts which charged him with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. It is however possible that mere fact that Milosevic chose to defend himself and that for the first time since the founding of the ICTY there was a head of state on trial, may have played a role. With the world´s media attention on the Milosevic trial the judges could not risk appearing to in any way limit his time. Which he ceartinly exploited to it´s fullest.

The trove of documents, the long list of witnesses and the evidence all takes time to present. One can only compare to the Nuremberg Trials, and wonder how it would have looked if Wilhelm Keitel or Rudolf Hess or Herman Göring for that matter had been allowed to hold time consuming irrelevant speeches for four years? In the end Milosevic died before a verdict came. In a very real sense his death can be seen as a victory for Serbia and Serbian nationalism and as a major defeat for International Justice and the victims of Milosevic´s ”Greater Serbian” project.

However Milosevic´s trial was not a complete loss, During the marathon trial a plethora of documents and evidence was presented and a number of key witnesses, many close to Milosevic gave testimony which could be then backed up by the existing evidence to build a clear picture of a man in charge ”a Svengali figure” to paraphrase Oliver Kamm, who had ultimate control of over the likes of Milan Babic, Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Milan Martic. If for no other reason than beacuse they were selected by him and because they were completely dependent on him and Belgrade. As it was shown in the Perisic trial, neither the Bosnian Serbs nor the rebel Krajina Serbs or “Croatian Serbs” would have been able to carry on with their war effort for long without the much need financial and logistical support from Belgrade.

For further reading I strongly recommend Danijel Toljagas autohorative account on the the systematic ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs in Eastern Bosnia in the first stages of Belgrade’s assault on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As well as former UN Secretery General Kofi Annan´s report on the fall of Srebrenica from 1999.

Zdravko Tolimir: Ratko Mladic “högra hand” dömd för folkmord i Srebenica och Zepa

Zdravko Tolimir, till höger, med FN-truppen under kriget i Bosnien
Zdravko Tolimir, till höger, med FN-truppen under kriget i Bosnien

Zdravko Tolimir var under Bosnien-kriget medlem av den bosnienserbiska arméns generalstab och chefen för arméns underrättelse och säkerhetstjänst. Åtal mot Zdravko Tolimir väcktes först 2005 då som en del av åtalet mot Vujadin Popovic som sedermera också fanns skyldig till folkmord i Srebrenica. I augusti 2006 då man fortfarande inte kunde fånga Tolimir som då var på flykt så väcktes ett separat åtal mot bara Zdravko Tolimir. 2007 så greps han och flogs till Haag. Tolimir anklagades bla för att vara delaktigt I två separata så kallade JCE ( Joint Criminal Enterprise) där det finns ett övergripande mål att åsamka skada mot bla olika etniska grupper.

Övergripande målet med JCE är att bevisa att det fanns eller finns en avsikt att begå brott och att de/den åtalade är var på något sätt inblandad i detta. Tolimir anklagades bla för överlagt mord på bosniaker från Srebenica, detta skulle ha ägt rum i en tidsperiod mellan 11 juli och 1 november 1995. Den andra åtalspunkten var massdeportaion av bosniaker från Srebrenica och Zepa. Deportationen av bosniaker från de två enklaverna Srebrenica och Zepa var ingenting som bara hände eller att det var ett spontant resultat av den serbiska anfallet mot de två enklaverna. “Rensningen”  av bosniaker från Srebrenica och Zepa var själva målet med anfallet.

2 november 2009 under rättegången mot den förre bosnienserbiske ledaren Radovan Karadzic hävdade åklagaren Alan Tieger att Karadzic visste hela tiden vad som pågick under den militära operationen i Srebrenica, deporatationen av människor samt de massavrättningar som tog plats efter att serbiska stryrkor intog staden. Tieger ville visa hur det hela ingick i ett övergripande serbisk plan. Tieger började med Direktiv 4 som utfärdades av Radovan Karadzic gav order till den bosnienserbiska arméns Drinakår att starta ett offensiv med avsikten att “nöta ut fienden” och tvinga de att lämna eller överge Srebrenica, Zepa och Gorazde. Karadzics direktiv förvandlades till militära handlingar från och med januari 1993 men på grund av press från det internationella samfundet fick man dock avbryta dessa i april 1993 då Srebrenica Zepa och Gorazde utropades till så kallade säkra zoner. Dessa ”säkra zoner” förblev dock under bosnienserbisk belägring under hela kriget.

Då Direktiv 4 misslyckades så valde serberna ett mer ”subtil” strategi enligt Tieger, tanken var att sakta ”kväva enklaverna till döds” genom att man maximalt störde FN:s arbete i enklaverna och att man gjorde livet svårt för de FN-soldater som fanns där på plats och på det sättet skapa en outhärdlig situation för invånarna i enklaven vilket i sin tur skulle göra enklaverna till lätta måltavlor när man väl valde att slå till militärt.

I mars 1995 så skrev Radovan Karadzic under Direktiv 7 där han beordrade den Bosnienserbiska arméns “Drinakår” att påbörja stridsoperationer i regionen med det övergripande syftet att; skapa, osäkerhet, kaos och en känsla hos de som befanns i dessa enklaver att det fanns ingen chans till överlevnad i dessa enklaver, man ville få bort dessa människor med alla möjliga medel.

Domarteamet i Tolimirrättegången kom till samma slutsats som Teiger gjorde i Karadzic-rättegången, d.v.s. att redan 1992 så fanns det en policy i plats, framtaget på högsta nivåerna i den  Republika Srpska, en policy vars mål var att ”ta bort” den bosniakiska befolkningen från östra Bosnien. Denna policy bekräftades i mars 1995 genom Direktiv 7 som skrevs som sagt under av Radovan Karadzic som skrev direktivet med medlemmar av den bosnienserbiska generalstaben, däribland Zdravko Tolimir. Även om Direktiv 4 som utfärdades i december 1992 misslyckades så var dess effekt enorm på den redan då utsatta bosniakiska befolkningen i östra bosnien.

Balkanchefen för FN:s flyktingorgan UNHCR, spanjoren José Maria Mendiluce var våren 1992 på väg till bosnien från Belgrad när han passerade staden Zvornik, enligt Mendiluce:

öppnade jugoslaviskt artilleri eld från den serbiska sidan av Drina och inne i staden härjade Arkans soldater tillsammans med ”Röda baskrar”, en specialstyrka underställd inrikesministeriet i Belgrad. Jag hölls kvar i två timmar och insåg att jag löpte allvarlig fara. Jag kunde se lastbilar fyllda med döda kroppar. Jag såg milismän som tog döda barn, kvinnor och gamla människor från deras hus och slängde dem på lastbilarna. Jag såg minst fyra eller fem lastbilar fyllda med lik. När jag kom till Zvornik hade rensningen redan genomförts. Gatorna var folktomma. Allt var över. Erövrarna plundrade och städade upp efter massakern. Jag var övertygad om att de skulle döda mig.

Mönstret från Zvornik och bla Bjelinja skulle upprepas ett tiotal ställen i östra Bosnien, städer som Visegrad, Rudo, Cajnicje, Rogatica, Vlasenica, Foca, Bratunac, Bjeljina Brcko, Cerska, Konjevic Polje… Cerska och Konjevic Polje var de som höll ut längst, tillsammans med Srebenica, Gorazde och Zepa. Där hade de bosniaker som hade lyckats komma den serbiska attacken under våren och sommaren 1992 sökt skydd. Under vintern 1992 så kom dessa enklaver under hårt tryck från både bosnienserbiska och dåvarande jugoslaviska styrkor, under höjden av den serbiska offensiven så attackerades enklaverna av fyra olika armékår, två från RS och två armékår från Serbien eller dåvarande Jugoslavien,  (Serbien-Montenegro) allt som allt så beräknar man att ca 10 000 serbiska soldater/paramilitärer/polismän deltog i offensiven. När så Cerska och Konjevic Polje föll till slut i mars 1993, de som överlevde tog sig till fots till Srebrenica som var den närmaste enklaven kvar. Gorazde och Zepa var längre söderut, antalet människor som befann sig i Srebrenica var ca 40 000.

2005 så vittnade Diego Arria i rättegången mot Naser Oric, Srebrenicas bosniakiske befälhavare. Enligt Arria så är den slutsatsen som han kunde komma fram till i april 1993 då han besökte Srebrenica som FN-representant; att det handlade om ”folkmord i slowmotion”
Chockerande bilder har etsats sig fast på hans näthinna:  extrem fattigdom, förstörelse, svält och fruktansvärda förhållanden gömdes från omvärlden, enligt Arria med hjälp av FN-trupper på plats, detta var ett sätt att lugna ner de serbiska politiska och militära ledare som inte ville att den sanna bilden skulle komma ut. Arria var den som tog de första bilderna av de förhållandena som rådde i Srebrenica. Enligt honom så ville FN ha hans kamera men han vägrade ge den till de FN-trupper som fanns där.

Omvärlden gjorde inte någonting för att skydda bosniakerna i enklaven och man gjorde det inte möjligt för de att försvara sig. Enligt Arria så sopade FN under mattan rapporter om situationen och för det håller han Boutros Boutros – Ghali ansvarig, det fanns enligt Arria en tendens att försöka jämställa offer och angripare, det var med största sannolikhet det bästa sättet att faktiskt göra någonting. Enligt honom så gjorde FN på plats ingenting för att stoppa vad han kallade för en ”graduell folkmord” tvärtom, så gjorde FN allt för att förhindra honom för att kunna rapportera om vad han egentligen såg.

Enligt Arria så hoppades världssamfundet att serberna skulle köra över enklaven 1993 vilket skulle göra situationen för de diplomaterna på plats i FN-byggnaden betydligt lättare. Det faktum att bosniakerna inte gav och att försvaret i Srebrenica höll fast sina linjer in det sista gjorde att FN var tvungna att ”göra nåt” och skapandet av så kallade ”säkra zoner” (Safe Area)  kom till som en nödlösning.

Brittiske frilansjournalisten Tony Birtley  lyckades ta sig in i Srebrenica vintern 1993 och filma resultaten av Radovan Karadzic “Direktiv 4” för ABC.

Domarteamet kom också fram att direkt efter att Karadzic hade skrivit under Direktiv 7 så började bosnienserberna införa sanktioner av det humanitära hjälp som skulle till Srebrenica och Zepa. Målet med restriktionerna var att göra livet outhärdligt för bosniakerna, samtidigt så började bosnienserberna utföra militära aktioner och fram till juni 1995 så hade bosnienserberna omringat Srebrenica. Domarteamet kom också fram att medan det förekom skärmytslingar mellan Srebrenicas försvarare och bosnienserberna så riktades de bosnienserbiska militära aktioner också till en stor del mot Srebrenica civila befolkning. I början av juli 1995 så uppstod ett katastrofal humanitär situation i båda enklaverna, då bosnienserberna initierade militär operationen Krivaja 95 vars huvudsakliga mål var att skapa ”förutsättningar för elimination av enklaverna”

Den 11 juli intogs Srebrenica av de serbiska styrkorna och 25 000 till 30 000 bosniaker, mest civila, kvinnor barn och äldre, sökte skydd i FN-förläggningen i Potocari. Den 12 juli intogs Potocari av serberna som avväpnade de FN soldater som fanns på plats, vissa av soldaterna gav bröd till de civila medans de filmades av ett serbiskt tv-team. Enligt domen så fort kameran slutade filma så tog soldaterna tillbaka det bröd de hade delat ut. Enligt domen så började man separera män från kvinnor och barn, inklusive unga pojkar och äldre sjuka män. Kvinnorna och barnen sattes på bussar som hade arrangerats av serberna medan männen kvarhölls i ett hus som sedermera blev känd som ”det vita huset”

Männen transporterades senare till Bratunac där de sen fick sällskap av tusentals bosniakiska män som hade fångats in av serberna eller som hade gett upp och överlämnat sig. Många av dessa män hölls kvar i byggnader och bussar i Bratunac under vidriga förhållanden där de fick utstå grova förolämpningar från de serbiska soldater och där många misshandlades, också till döds. De serbiska soldaterna var fria att gör a som de ville med fångarna. Många av dessa män avrättades också i Bratunac. Den 14 juli de kvarvarande fångarna flyttades till staden Zvornik och hölls kvar där innan de möte sitt öde.

Domarkammaren kände att de var tvungna att påpeka ett antal fall av dokumenterade massavrättningar. Den 13 juli transporterades hundratals bosniakiska män till ett lagerlokal i byn Kravica, när serberna hade lyckats packa lagerlokalen full, så började de skjuta mot fångarna med maskingevär och även granater och raketkastare. De sköt i flera timmar och avrättningarna fortsatte framtill morgonen 14 juli då en serbisk kamera man lyckades filma lagerlokalen och de döda bosniaker som låg utanför.

Offren i lagerlokalen i Kravica
Offren i lagerlokalen i Kravica

En av Tolimirs officerare; Ljubisa Beara, själv dömd för folkmord var direkt inblandad i begravningen av de som hade dödats i massavrättningarna i Kravica 13-14 juli 1995. En annan sådant tillfälle var massavrättningen av bosniaker i en skola, i närheten av byn Orahovac, fångarna forslades in en gymnastik sal och senare transporterades till med buss till avrättningsplatserna, skjutandet började så fort de klev av bussen, vissa av de fångar som hade lyckats överleva avrättningarna fick utstå förolämpningar från från serberna och man lät de lida innan man tillslut utdelade nådastöten. I en av grupperna fanns en fem-sex årig pojke som efter att man hade skjutit mot den gruppen han var i reste sig från den högen av kroppar och ropade efter sin far. Uppemot 2500 bosniaker mördades den dan och begravdes i en massgrav. Domarkammaren kom fram till att det lidande fångarna fick utstå måste ha varit fruktansvärt, i många fall så utspelades det så att de som väntade på att bli skjutna fick se de som stod framför de bli skjutna. De få som överlevde och har vittnat har gett en skrämmande bild av det som skedde.

Domarkammaren kom fram till att det lidande fångarna fick utstå måste ha varit fruktansvärt, i många fall så utspelades det hela så att de som väntade på att bli skjutna fick se de som stod framför de bli skjutna. De få som överlevde och har vittnat har gett en skrämmande bild av det som skedde.
Den 16 juli så transporterades hundratals bosniaker till en by som heter Branjevo, efter ankomsten så avrättades fångarna av de serbiska styrkorna, fångarna avrättades i omgångar, efter varje omgång så frågade serberna de som var skjutna ifall det fanns några som överlevde, de som svarade blev skjutna i huvudet. Avrättningarna fortsatte fram till eftermiddag sammanlagt så avrättades 1000-1500 bosniaker i Branjevo.

Enligt domarteamet så är det enda möjliga slutsatsen som man kan dra utifrån all bevisning som hade lagts fram är att Zdravko Tolimir inte bara visste om att det fanns ett övergripande plan för folkmord utan att han själv var delaktig i det genom att de säkerhetsstyrkor som han var ansvarig för dels rapporterade till honom om vad som skedde på marken men att han själv var högst inblandad i utformandet av planer för massdeportation och mord av bosniaker.

Samt mördandet av tre bosniaker i Zepa som dommarkammaren anser faller inom ramen för folkmord. Mord på Mehmed Hajrić, Avdo Palić och Amir Imamović, tre prominenta bosniakiska ledare från Zepa efter att Zepa hade fallit sågs av domarkammaren som ett sätt att vidare göra livet omöjligt för bosniaker i drinadalen och kan nog räknas som ett form av eliticide, dvs att man dödar toppskicktet i samhället så att den inte kan organisera sig. Zdravko Tolimir var chefen för den bosnienserbiska arméns underrättelsetjänst och säkerhetsstyrkor samt medlem av den bosnienserbiska generalstaben. Han hade en nära relation till Ratko Mladic som ofta konsulterade Tolimir innan han fattade de beslut han gjorde, Mladic ansåg Tolimir vara en del av sitt ”innersta krets” Vittnen har beskrivit Tolimir som Mladic ”högra hand” och hans ”ögon och öron” och mer en jämlike med Mladic än en i den långa raden av underställda. Stabchefen för den bosnienserbiska armén Manojlo Milovanovic vittnade om att; Tolimir var den bäst informerade officeraren i VRS och att ”han alltid visste mer än andra”.

När det gäller åtalspunkten rörande förföljelse mot folkgrupp så fanns det gott om bevis för Tolimirs inblandning, överlagt mord på bosniakiska fångar, grym och omänsklig behandling av den bosniakiska befolkningen samt terror mot civilbefolkningen, förstörelse av bosniakiska hem och moskéer, påtvingad massdeportation av kvinnor barn, och äldre ut ur enklaverna gjordes allt med målet att diskriminera denna grupp på ett politisk rasmässig och religiös plan. När det gäller mord på bosniaker i Zepa så kom kammaren fram till att, mord på dessa indivder som ansågs tillhöra Zepas bosniakiska elit samt massdeportationen av stadens bosniakiska befolkning gjordes med avsikten att göra rehabilitation av denna etniska grupp i just det området omöjligt.

Uppläsning av domen mot Zdravko Tolimir, 2012-12-12 ICTY, Haag