Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Karadzic Clapped as Muslim Village Burned

Official oversaw burning of village and killing of 60 Muslims – and reported back to a gleeful Bosnian leadership.
By Emir Suljagic

A Bosnian Serb official pleaded guilty this week to launching an attack on a Muslim village in which 60 men were executed and scores of homes burned down.

He says he reported what he had done to Bosnian Serb leaders – including president Radovan Karadzic – and was rewarded with a round of applause.

Miroslav Deronjic told the war crimes court on September 30 that he had ordered the attack against the village of Glogova, eastern Bosnia, in the early years of the war.

Deronjic, 49, was chief of the Bratunac crisis staff, an ad hoc Bosnian Serb local government, during the time when forces under his control attacked the Bosnian Muslim village of Glogova in May 1992. According to the indictment against him, his post gave him effective command of the Bratunac police force and the territorial defence, a locally-recruited militia. The attack took place after a Serb official was killed near the village.

Sixty or more men in Glogova were shot in cold blood, and the women and children deported to Bosnian government controlled territory.

As part of his plea agreement with the prosecutors, Deronjic promised to testify in any Hague trial. In return, the prosecution will ask for a maximum sentence of 10 years in the case against him.

A former high school teacher, Deronjic gave evidence – in a signed statement attached to the plea agreement – implicating the Yugoslav army and Serbian police and paramilitaries in the massacre.

In his statement, he said that, as a confidant of Karadzic and a central board member of the latter’s Serbian Democratic Party, he was aware that in the months leading up to the war both the Yugoslav army and Serbia’s interior ministry were arming Bosnian Serbs.

In mid-April 1992, volunteers from Serbia poured into the town of Bratunac, on the river Drina. They came under an agreement between the leaders of the Bosnian Serbs and Serbia itself, said Deronjic. The volunteers immediately killed some of the most prominent Muslims.

They were shot under orders of Najdan Mladjenovic, a Bosnian Serb commander directly responsible to Deronjic.

Two days later, Deronjic was summoned to Pale, the Bosnian Serb capital, to attend a conference of crisis staff chiefs and report to the Bosnian Serb leadership.

When he walked in a large conference hall, Karadzic was sitting sat at a table with a map in front of him. With him were Bosnian Serb army commander-in-chief General Ratko Mladic and one of Karadzic’s officials, Velibor Ostojic.

Deronjic said that when he reported that the village of Glogova had been burnt down and its Muslim population deported, the three men broke into applause.

"Now we can colour Bratunac in blue,” said Ostojic. Blue is a traditional Serb national colour.

The court hearing took several hours because presiding judge Wolfgang Schomburg read out every paragraph of the indictment to Deronjic.

Emir Suljagic is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.

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