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Focus on Srebrenica Suspects

Profiles of defendants in largest joint trial ever seen at the court.
By Helen Bobby
IWPR has prepared a series of short profiles of the seven men who are due to face trial shortly in The Hague in connection with the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys from the United Nations-protected enclave of Srebrenica in 1995.



The profiles, included below, also cover two further individuals who are included on the same indictment but who will not face trial along with their co-accused - one because he remains on the run and the other because of the possibility that he will be tried in Bosnia instead.



To date, six former members of the Army of the Republika Srpska, VRS, have been sentenced in The Hague for their part in the Srebrenica massacre, the first legally-recognised genocide in Europe since World War Two.



They are Drazen Erdemovic, Dragan Jokic, Vidoje Blagojevic, Momir Nikolic, Dragan Obrenovic and Radislav Krstic.



Erdemovic has completed the five-year prison term he received after admitting shooting prisoners during the massacre. And Krstic is currently serving a 35-year sentence in Britain, having been found guilty by the Hague appeals chamber of aiding and abetting genocide.



Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic are currently appealing the results of a joint trial in which they were sentenced to 18 and nine years in jail respectively for their roles in the massacre.



Nikolic and Obrenovic confessed to playing a part in the slaughter and have agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in return for reduced sentences. Obrenovic is currently serving a 17-year stretch in Norway. Nikolic’s 27-year jail term was recently reduced to 20 on appeal.



The next set of Srebrenica proceedings in The Hague will be the largest joint trial ever seen at the court. It is due to begin formally on July 14, the last day before the tribunal’s summer recess, although it won't get properly underway until August.



Seven of the men on the joint indictment are accused of being part of a joint criminal enterprise to “murder able-bodied Muslim men” by forcibly separating over 1,000 men from their families in Potocari – where they had fled when the Srebrenica enclave fell to Bosnian Serb army forces in July 1995 – and capturing over 6,000 others and transporting them to other sites where they were summarily executed.



They are also accused of forcibly transferring women and children to “create conditions… that would contribute to the destruction of the entire Muslim population of eastern Bosnia, including but not limited to the failure in part, of the population to live and reproduce normally”.



Four of them are further charged with assisting in an operation to rebury the victims later that year “in an organised and comprehensive effort to conceal the killings and executions”.



All nine are accused of persecutions, murder and forcible transfers as crimes against humanity. They are further all accused of being part of a joint criminal enterprise to forcibly remove the Muslim population from the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa.



The indictment describes how the second UN enclave was fired on later in July the same year and how, when the enclave surrendered, women and children were transported away, while “hundred s of able-bodied Muslim men began to flee across the river Drina to Serbia” because they feared being killed if captured.



SREBRENICA PROFILES



LJUBISA BEARA: Colonel Ljubisa Beara was allegedly chief of security of the main staff of the VRS. The prosecution says that his responsibilities included managing the main staff units of the military police, as well as coordinating with the bodies of the ministry of the interior, MUP, in the six VRS corps’ zones of responsibility.



According to the indictment, Beara committed, planned, instigated, ordered and otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation and execution of the charged crimes. He surrendered to the tribunal on October 9, 2004 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.



He faces one count of genocide one of conspiracy to commit genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



LJUBOMIR BOROVCANIN: Ljubomir Borovcanin was allegedly deputy commander of the Republika Srpska MUP special police brigade. He is said to have been responsible for planning and directing the activities of all the subordinate formations under his command in accordance with directives received from his higher command.



MUP forces allegedly under his command separated and transported the Muslim population out of Srebrenica.



He is alleged to have had “full knowledge” of the plan to execute Muslim men, and to have been personally present when hundreds of Muslim prisoners were summarily executed at the Kravica warehouse.



Ljubomir Borovcanin voluntary surrendered on April 1, 2005.



He faces one count of genocide, one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



MILAN GVERO: Milan Gvero was allegedly the assistant commander for morale, legal, and religious affairs of the main staff of the VRS.



The prosecution says that he had knowledge of the project aimed at driving the Muslim population out of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, and that he participated in the execution of this project.



He is alleged to have “lied to the international representatives in order to block the UN’s and other international organisations’ access to Srebrenica”.



Gvero voluntary surrendered on February 24, 2005. He made his first appearance on March 4 that year. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him - four counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws or customs of war, including: murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



RADIVOJE MILETIC: Radivoje Miletic was allegedly chief of operations and training and deputy chief of staff, and was standing in for the chief of staff of the main staff of the VRS.



He is said to have had knowledge of the project aimed at driving the Muslim population out of the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa, and to have participated in the execution of this project.



The indictment states that he “played a central role in organising and facilitating the effort to restrict aid and supplies to the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves”.



Miletic voluntarily surrendered on February 24, 2005 and pleaded not guilty on March 4 that year. He faces four counts of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws or customs of war, including: murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



DRAGO NIKOLIC: Drago Nikolic was allegedly a second lieutenant and served as chief of security for the Zvornik Brigade. He was allegedly responsible for coordinating with MUP.



He is said to have assisted in the transportation of Muslim men to detention centres, and to have overseen “and supervised their summary execution”.



He was transferred to the tribunal on March 17, 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.



He faces one count of genocide one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



VINKO PANDUREVIC: Vinko Pandurevic was allegedly a lieutenant colonel in command of the Zvornik Brigade of the Drina Corps of the VRS.



He is said to have been responsible for planning and directing the activities of all the subordinate formations of his brigade, in accordance with directives received from his higher command at the corps level.



The indictment states that as a brigade commander, he “personally authorised the detention, summary execution and burial of thousands of Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica”.



Pandurevic voluntarily surrendered on March 23, 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.



He faces one count of genocide, one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



VUJADIN POPOVIC: Vujadin Popovic was allegedly a lieutenant colonel and the assistant commander of security on the staff of the Drina Corps.



The prosecution says he was responsible for managing the units of the Drina Corps military police, and proposing ways to utilise those units.



The indictment alleges that he participated in a meeting to arrange for the departure and transportation of Muslims from Srebrenica, and that after assisting in the transportation he “oversaw and supervised [the Muslim men’s] summary execution” at a number of sites.



He voluntarily surrendered on April 14, 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to all the counts against him.



He faces one count of genocide, one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



ZDRAVKO TOLIMIR: Zdravko Tolimir was allegedly the assistant commander for intelligence and security of the main staff of the VRS.



He is said to have been in charge of the intelligence and security branches of the VRS and in this capacity, among other things, to have supervised the work of the Tenth Sabotage Detachment of the VRS “when elements of this unit summarily executed more than 1,700 Muslim men and boys” and the 65th Protection Regiment of the VRS.



He is further alleged to have conducted negations for the evacuation of the Zepa enclave.



Tolimir is still on the run. Unless he arrives in The Hague soon, his case is expected to be severed from the others just before it comes to trial.



He faces one count of genocide, one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



MILORAD TRBIC: Milorad Trbic was allegedly an assistant to Drago Nikolic, the chief of security in the Zvornik Brigade.



The indictment states that he “assisted in organising the transportation, detention security and execution” of Muslim men from Srebrenica and that he “personally executed several… Muslim victims at the execution field”.



He voluntarily surrendered on April 7, 2005 and has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.



He faces one count of genocide, one of conspiracy to commit genocide, fives of crimes against humanity and one of violations of the laws and customs of war including: extermination, murder, persecutions, forcible transfer and deportation.



The prosecution has asked for Trbic’s trial to be heard in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a decision has not yet been made with regard to this request, judges have agreed to sever his case from that of the others.



In a document published last year, prosecutors said Trbic had already implicated several of his co-accused in crimes at Srebrenica in statements to the prosecution and in testimony in previous trial proceedings.



Helen Bobby is an IWPR intern in The Hague.

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