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Srebrenica Massacre Denial - Defence witnesses refuse to accept massacres took place

Tribunal Update 198 Last Week in The Hague (November 6-12, 2000)

The defendant, accused of genocide for his alleged role in the killing, has never challenged evidence that an estimated 7,500 Muslim men and boys were murdered shortly after the former United Nations "safe haven" fell to VRS forces in July 1995.

Krstic's defence has rested on his claim that he was in command of the VRS assault on the neighbouring UN enclave of Zepa and not involved in the Srebrenica area at the time of the killings.

When asked by prosecutors if the massacres took place, former VRS soldier Zeljko Borovcanin replied, "as a human, I cannot believe [this happened]." Protected witness DA, a former officer in the Drina Corps in charge of "moral, religious and legal issues" said, "As a humanist, I do not wish or want to believe [this happened]."

DA said the "Muslim media" had wildly exaggerated the numbers killed. He described the figure of 7,500 as "incredible", adding it would have been noticed if "7,000 sparrows had been killed, let alone people."

Only the third defence witness called last week conceded the murders had taken place. Protected witness DB, a former communications officer in the Drina Corps, said that on the basis of media reports and evidence he saw during his preparation for the trial, "it seems undeniably correct" that massacres took place.

Under questioning by defence lawyers Nenad Petrusic and Tomislav Visnjic, the three witnesses said Krstic was involved in the Zepa offensive at the time of the alleged crimes. The witnesses said the accused had no control or communication with the forces "cleansing the terrain" around Srebrenica.

Witness DB challenged the reliability of radio and telephone communications intercepted by the Bosnia-Herzegovina, BiH, army and presented by the prosecution as evidence of Krstic's involvement in the massacres.

DB said the wire-tapping services of the VRS were made up of people with "no experience and who had not been trained for the job." The situation in the BiH army "was even worse," the witness said.

Prosecutors, however, pointed to a report from VRS headquarters in 1992 which gave a very positive assessment of its wire-tapping services, claiming information gleaned in this way provided the 70 per cent of all intelligence data.

The same report also criticised certain VRS units for their "lack of discipline and respect for rules" in using open and unprotected lines despite the "enemy's efficient system for intercepting messages."

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