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Courtside: Srebrenica Case

More indictments issued for Bosnia’s biggest war crime.
By Chris Stephen

Three more Serbs were charged with war crimes arising from the Srebrenica massacre last week, bringing to 13 the number of indictments for the biggest war crime of the Bosnian war.


More than 7,000 unarmed Muslims were killed, mostly by firing squad, after Serb forces overran the enclave in July 1995.


The three indictees all served as military security officers for Bosnian Serb forces in the area at the time of the massacre.


Two of them, Colonel Ljubisa Beara, nicknamed Ljubo, and Lieutenant Colonel Vujadin Popovic, were chief of security and security assistant at the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, high command respectively. The third, Second Lieutenant Drago Nikolic, was chief of security of the VRS Zvornik brigade.


All face the same three charges – genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war.


Other indictees include Slobodan Milosevic, where the charge is part of his Bosnia genocide indictment


Former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic, his former army commander, were indicted for genocide in Srebrenica in November 1995.


After this, prosecutors began to work their way down the command structure.


In 1998, General Radislav Krstic, commander of the VRS Drina corps, was publicly indicted. His indictment had been sealed or secret, a device commonly used to allow NATO commandos to arrest men who do not know they are wanted.


Krstic was arrested by NATO units that year and later jailed for 46 years.


Sealed indictments were then made public for his brigade commanders. Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic, head of the Bratunacka brigade, was arrested in August 2001 by NATO troops and is awaiting trial. Lieutenant Colonel Vinko Pandurevic of the Zvornicka brigade remains on NATO’s wanted list.


Next came indictments against army officers from the two brigade headquarters.


Major Dragan Obrenovic, Captain Momic Nikolic were arrested by NATO in April 2001 and 2002 respectively, while Major Dragan Jokic surrendered himself in May 2002.


In September 2002, the indictment of the commander of the Drina corps special police brigade, Ljubomir Borovcanin, was unsealed but he remains at large.


Now it is the turn of three VRS security officers whose indictments were unsealed last week.


Five indictees are still at large: Beara, Borovcanin, Pandurevic, Popovic and Nikolic.


All the indictees are accused of being part of a joint criminal enterprise that took place in Srebrenica in July 1995.


Chris Stephen is IWPR bureau chief in The Hague.


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