COURTSIDE: Secret Indictments Unsealed

Secret indictments for three Bosnian Serbs unsealed after efforts to arrest them fail

COURTSIDE: Secret Indictments Unsealed

Secret indictments for three Bosnian Serbs unsealed after efforts to arrest them fail

Saturday, 15 December, 2001

Judges removed the seals last week on three secret indictments issued years ago, at the request of the chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte.

Colonel Zvonko Pandurevic, former commander of the Zvornik brigade of the Bosnian Serb army, was accused over crimes committed in Srebrenica in July 1995.

Savo Todovic and Mitar Rasevic were accused of crimes committed in Foca in 1992 to 1993, where they held the posts of deputy warden and chief of guard shifts at the prison.

Sealed indictments are designed is to facilitate arrests. This failed to happen in their case after the arrests of their superiors alerted them to their danger. They sought safety out of SFOR's reach, probably in Serbia.

Pandurevic was alerted by the arrest of General Radislav Krstic in December 1998. The indictment charging the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Drina corps with genocide in Srebrenica was hastily "re-edited" after Krstic's arrest, and the names of two other accused crossed out.

The published text of the indictment makes it clear the two crossed-out names were of high ranking commanders of the Drina corps, whose forces were involved in the assault on Srebrenica in July 1995.

In August this year, soon after Krstic was found guilty of genocide in Srebrenica and sentenced to 46 years imprisonment, SFOR in Zvornik arrested Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic, commander of the Bratunac brigade which was a part of the Drina corps.

When the seal on his indictment was removed after the arrest, it turned out his was one of the crossed-out names.Last week, it emerged the other was Pandurevic. His unsealed indictment is identical to Krstic's and Blagojevic's.

At the same time, a dossier has been completed of the leadership of the Zvornik brigade from the time of the Srebrenica killings. Two men - Dragan Obrenovic, former chief of the unit, and Dragan Jokic, head of engineering, also accused of the Srebrenica crimes, are already in custody.

Todovic and Rasevic were alerted in a similar fashion to Pandurevic in June 1998 by the arrest of Milorad Krnojelac, the former prison warden in Foca. As both men took orders from Krnojelac, they assumed they were next and left town.

Krnojelac's trial is over and the verdict is expected early next year. Evidence presented in his trial says some 300 detained Bosniaks went missing from the prison, presumed dead.

Todovic's unsealed indictment says he was in charge of "selecting prisoners", in effect, for punishment, beatings, forced labour, solitary detention, exchange or death.

As commander of the guard shift, Rasevic, was in charge of supervising the 37 guards, managing solitary confinement cells, and communicating with the authorities in Foca over prisoner exchanges.

After the release of the indictments against Pandurevic, Todovic and Rasevic, only one indictment remains under seal, while the number of the publicly accused fugitives has increased to 31. They are expected to arrive in The Hague next year.

Mirko Klarin is IWPR senior editor for the war crimes tribunal and editor-in-chief of SENSE News Agency.

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