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Karadzic 'Ordered' Atrocity

Witness says Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic gave orders for Srebrenica massacre.
By Emir Suljagic

A former Bosnian Serb official told the Hague tribunal this week that he had received orders from Radovan Karadzic to kill all men from Srebrenica, days before the fall of the enclave in July 1995.


Miroslav Deronjic, one time official of Serb Democratic Party, SDS, testified on October 28 as a court witness in the sentencing hearing of Momir Nikolic, who was the first Bosnian Serb officer to plead guilty for the Srebrenica massacre.


Deronjic, who was charged with crimes against humanity for the massacre of over sixty Muslims in Bratunac in May 1992, recently pleaded guilty himself and, as part of his plea agreement, accepted to testify in other proceedings before the tribunal.


In July 1995, immediately following the fall of Srebrenica, Deronjic was appointed "civilian commissioner for the area of Srebrenica" by Karadzic and testified at the Nikolic sentencing hearing about events surrounding the fall of the UN designated safe area.


The thrust of Deronjic's testimony had to do with a meeting held in SDS headquarters in Bratunac on July 13, 1995, between him, Colonel Ljubisa Beara from the RS army's general staff and police colonel Dragomir Vasic.


At the meeting, the fate of thousands of Muslim prisoners from Srebrenica held in Bratunac was discussed.


In his confession, Nikolic talked of the meeting and said he attended it too. Deronjic, however, in his plea said that he could not remember Nikolic being there. In his testimony, however, he confirmed Nikolic's allegations about the contents of the meeting.


The meeting followed a telephone conversation Deronjic had with Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic on the evening of July 13, from Bratunac brigade headquarters.


Karadzic advised Deronjic to use military lines of communication, because they were safer.


Their conversation centered around thousands of Muslim prisoners in Bratunac that night. "At one point he [Karadzic] said that someone would come with the instructions to see me and take care of it," Deronjic said in court.


Deronjic said he went back to his office and waited. The man who showed at his door was Ljubisa Beara, chief security officer of the RS army's general staff. "I allow for the possibility that he told Beara to come to my office," said Deronjic, adding that he had not known whom Karadzic had in mind.


As soon as Beara entered the office, he told Deronjic he had come to see him about the prisoners. "He said that they should all be killed," Deronjic said in his testimony. Beara planned to kill all prisoners in Bratunac.


"I told him I had had instruction from Karadzic that prisoners should be transported to Zvornik and Bijeljina," Deronjic said. Beara replied, "I have orders from the top to kill them all and to kill them in Bratunac."


Deronjic insisted, however, that prisoners should be transported out of town and Beara eventually complied.


Deronjic could not say whether Beara was the man Karadzic had had in mind in their earlier conversation. "I had an earlier conversation with Karadzic and I could draw certain conclusions, nevertheless," he said.


He could not remember whether the conversations with Karadzic took place on July 8 or 9, 1995, but was sure it took place in Pale, the Bosnian Serb war capital outside Sarajevo.


In a brief conversation outside the Bosnian Serb presidency building, Karadzic told Deronjic that everyone in Srebrenica should be killed.


"He told me, 'Miroslav, kill everyone. Everyone you catch'," Deronjic said.


At that point, Deronjic said he did not know whether the RS army could or would take over Srebrenica, but believed it a realistic possibility.


Emir Suljagic is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.