BBC News EUROPE Mladic blamed for Bosnia massacre.

Michael Pugliese debsian at
Fri Aug 4 22:04:08 PDT 2000

BBC News | EUROPE | Mladic blamed for Bosnia massacre Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 02:11 GMT 03:11 UK Mladic blamed for Bosnia massacre

General Krstic on trial: He could go to prison for life

The highest-ranking Bosnian Serb to stand trial for war crimes has directly implicated his commander, General Ratko Mladic, in the worst massacre of the Bosnian conflict. General Radislav Krstic said General Mladic had personally taken charge in Srebrenica - the town from which about 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys disappeared after it fell to the Serbs in July 1995. He said Mr Mladic - the former Bosnian Serb commander-in-chief - and a group of top aides had supervised the rounding up of the Muslims, who were then taken away and shot.

Ratko Mladic: A key figure in the Bosnian war, still at large

It is the first time the international war crimes tribunal at the Hague has heard evidence that Mr Mladic was directly in charge of the massacre at Srebrenica. Mr Mladic, also indicted by the tribunal, is still at large. Mladic 'responsible for everything' Mr Krstic is being tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. He named the officers at a preliminary hearing in February, but for security reasons his testimony was not made public until Friday. The video recording of his testimony wrapped up the prosecution case after 11 weeks of hearings. "The responsibility for everything... lies with General Mladic and the senior officers that he engaged for the operation," Mr Krstic said.

Mr Mladic was present when people were loaded onto buses for deportation and later pulled off for execution, he said. Last month, the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, said Srebrenica would forever haunt the history of the UN, which was supposed to have protected the town from the Serbs. Worst massacre A UN report describes the Srebrenica massacre as the worst in Europe since World War II. Srebrenica, close to the border with Serbia, was an isolated enclave controlled by Muslims when separatist Serbs swept across eastern Bosnia early in the 1992-95 war. Mr Krstic said he himself was not in Srebrenica when it fell to the Serbs and denied he was even aware of what was going on. He said he and his soldiers - the 15,000-strong Drina Corps - were excluded from the chain of command. The executions of prisoners taken at Srebrenica violated the rules of war and "those who committed this crime have harmed their people enormously," Mr Krstic said.

A blindfolded massacre victim shown as evidence at the trial

So far the remains of about 4,000 of the Srebrenica massacre victims have been located. Mr Krstic, whose trial resumes in mid-October, faces life imprisonment if convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity. He was arrested by Nato-led peacekeepers in December 1998. A Dutch battalion of about 100 soldiers was deployed in Srebrenica, but after Muslim defences broke down, the Dutch soldiers allowed General Mladic's forces to enter the enclave and separate the men from the women and children.

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