A key Zvornik police official says Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic had opposite stands concerning captured Srebrenica residents.
Dragomir Vasic, former Chief of the Safety Services Center in Zvornik, said that he “found out” in July 1995 that Ratko Mladic had ordered the “execution” of the captured men from Srebrenica, while Radovan Karadzic had issued an order to “relocate them to a prison”.
“On July 13, 1995, in the late evening hours, I was called to Deronjic’s office. Beara was there as well. They were having a dispute. Beara said that the boss, General Mladic, had sent an order to execute all detainees. Deronjic was saying that he had received an order issued by Karadzic to relocate those people to a prison,” Vasic said, testifying as a Prosecution witness at the trial of Radomir Vukovic and Zoran Tomic, members of the Second Special Police Squad, who are charged with genocide.
Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is at The Hague, awaiting trial. Ratko Mladic, former Commander of the General Staff of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, is on the run. Ljubisa Beara, former Chief of Security with the VRS General Staff, is being tried at The Hague, while Miroslav Deronjic, former President of the Crisis Committee in Bratunac, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty. He died while serving his sentence.
All except Deronjic have been charged, among other things, with genocide committed in Srebrenica.
Vasic told the Court that “during a private conversation” with Tomislav Kovac, former RS Minister of Internal Affairs, after the war, he found out that Mladic had ordered them “to kill those people”, in the early evening of July 13, 1995, after having found out “about an incident that happened in the field”.
The indictment alleges that Vukovic and Tomic participated in the capture of more than one thousand men in the Srebrenica area on July 13, 1995. Acting together with other policemen, they allegedly took the men to the Agricultural Cooperative in Kravica, where they shot them.
Commenting on the situation in Srebrenica and its vicinity in that period, Vasic said that “joint police forces” were formed after the occupation of the protected zone, adding that the commander of those forces was Ljubomir Borovcanin, who is currently on trial at The Hague. He said the Second Special Police Squad from Sekovici was part of the joint forces.
While questioning Vasic, the Prosecution presented him with pieces of correspondence which were submitted to the RS Interior Ministry in July 1995. The letters were signed by him.
One of these, dated July 12, alleged that most adult men who were capable of military service were located in the Konjevic polje and Sandici area, also indicating that there were about 8,000 of them, of whom 1,500 were armed. The letter indicated that the Sekovici Squad and Special Purposes Police Unit had “blocked the area in order to destroy those forces”.
“I did not write the letter. It was the Police Section Chief who did it. He probably used standard military terminology. The Unit, which was commanded by Ljubisa [Borovcanin], was tasked by the military authorities to guard the road between Bratunac and Konjevic polje, and not to run around the forest,” Vasic said.
A letter dated July 13, 1995, which the witness said he wrote after his “meeting with Mladic”, said military forces were to leave towards Zepa but that there were some outstanding tasks to be fulfilled by the Interior Ministry. The tasks included the evacuation of civilians from Srebrenica and the “execution of about 8,000 Muslim soldiers, who were surrounded in a forest near Konjevic polje. The battles are ongoing. The tasks should be carried out by police members only”.
“What we have here is military terminology. The letter says: ‘the battles are ongoing’. At that time there were no prisoners and nobody had surrendered. The letter did not refer to killing captured people,” the witness explained.
The witness said he found out about the murder of men in Kravica on July 14, when Borovcanin informed him about it, telling him that “a group led by Lukic opened fire on those people”.
The trial is due to continue on April 24, 2009, when Munira Subasic, President of the Association of Podrinje and Srebrenica Mothers, will appear as a Prosecution witness.