A former military observer with the United Nations considers that “the Bosnian Serb side” was the aggressor in Srebrenica in July 1995.
“An aggressor, in my opinion, is someone who starts or initiates an attack. As far as we, the UN observers, are concerned, the attack was initiated by the Bosnian Serbs on July 6, when the heavy shelling started. I consider ‘aggressor’ to be an appropriate term,” said Joseph Kingory, testifying via video link from Kenya.
The State Prosecution previously included Kingory’s statement, given at the trial of Radisav Krstic conducted before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, in 2000, in the case file. At this hearing the Defence of Radomir Vukovic and Zoran Tomic cross-examined the witness.
Krstic, former Chief of Headquarters of the Drina Corps with the Republika Srpska Army, was sentenced, by the ICTY in 2004, to 33 years in prison.
The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Vukovic and Tomic, former members of the Second Special Police Squad from Sekovici, with having participated, with the intention of partially exterminating a group of Bosniak people, in a joint criminal enterprise, from July 10 to 19, 1995, with the aim of forcibly resettling about 40,000 civilians from the UN protected zone of Srebrenica and executing more than 7,000 Bosniaks.
The Prosecution considers that Vukovic and Tomic participated, on July 13, 1995, in the shooting of more than 1,000 men in Kravica Agricultural Cooperative.
Joseph Kingory arrived in Srebrenica in April 1995, knowing that the town had been a demilitarized zone since May 1993 and all weapons had been “confiscated from Bosnian Muslims and locked in the Base of Bravo Unit with the Dutch UN Battalion”.
The Defence of the two indictees presented the witness with evidence of alleged “passing of weapons to the Muslim side” during 1994 and 1995, but Kingory said that, during the time he spent as UN military observer, he had “never received any information about arming of Bosnian Muslims”.
The witness said that the VRS attack on the protected enclave of Srebrenica began on July 6, 1995 with “heavy shelling”. He said that about 250 projectiles hit the downtown area in Srebrenica within the next few days.
Answering a question from Radivoje Lazarevic, Defence attorney of the first indictee, Kingory said he considered that “Srebrenica did not offer any resistance”.
“At some stage the Muslims asked us to give them back their weapons, but their requests were rejected. I do not know how they could respond to the fire, when they did not have any weapons. There may have been some small resistance offered by individuals, but it was minimal,” the witness said.
When asked by the Defence of the first indictee why the VRS forces entered the town of Srebrenica as late as July 10, given the fact that no resistance was offered, Kingory said that this was “a usual course of a military operation”.
“The target is bombarded first in order to make people do what you want them to do. This is how you dictate the conditions for negotiations,” he said.
Kingory was in front of the Dutch Battalion Base in Potocari on July 11, 1995. He said that the VRS forces conducted “separation of men capable of military service from women and children” at that location.
“I was against it. The observers and the captured people were afraid, particularly because of the fact that the men capable of military service were separated and their personal identification documents were seized. Why would someone do that? If they decided to separate them, they should have logically made a list of those people. We were afraid that we would hardly be able to identify those people if something happened to them,” the witness said.
The next hearing is due to take place on November 18 this year.