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Srebrenica Trial - A Chilling Radio Interception Puts Krstic On The Spot

Tribunal Update 197 Last Week in The Hague (October 30 - November 4, 2000)

During the recording, Krstic, charged with war crimes during the capture of Srebrenica five years ago, is alleged to have said, "Kill all in turn," which the prosecution believes is a reference to the mopping up of Muslim soldiers and civilians after the fall of the enclave.

The recording, the prosecution claim, was made by the Bosnian army monitoring service, and the officer who allegedly recorded the interception is expected to give evidence as to its authenticity in due course. Prosecutor Peter McClosky said it had also been sent to voice analysts for verification.

The full telephone exchange, although of poor quality, was intelligible. After exchanging pleasantries, the alleged speakers conducted the following conversation.

(Kristic:K): Are you working down there?

(ObrenovicO): We are working, indeed

K: Good

O: There are still a few, [they] got snared...

K: Yeah

O: ... either by guns or mines

K: Kill all in turn. Fuck their mothers!

O: Everything is going according to plan

K: Don't leave a single one alive!

O: What?

K: Do not leave anyone alive!

O: Everything is going according to plan. Everything.

During his cross-examination of Krstic the previous day, McClosky had asked the general two questions apparently unrelated to the evidence then under discussion. "Between 11 July and 1 November 1995," the prosecutor asked, "did you ever issue an order that all detained Muslim men be killed?" or that "no detainees be taken?"

Krstic replied with a categorical "No, I never ordered that."

After playing the recording on the Wednesday, McClosky repeated the questions. Krstic, visibly nervous and agitated, said, "its 100 per cent fiction. I did not speak to Obrenovic that day.

"I cannot recognise the voice of the other participant, let alone myself," Krstic went on. "I would never issue such an order, either over the telephone or in person."

The prosecution appears to have held back the tape recording in order to use it during this phase of the trial to specifically undermine the credibility of Krstic's own testimony to the court. During the three weeks of evidence given by the general in the witness box he has consistently denied any involvement in the Srebrenica killings.

Without denying the crimes took place, Krstic has maintained throughout that at the time - July and August 1995 - he was in command of Drina corps units then attacking the neighbouring United Nations, UN, enclave of Zepa.

Krstic claims the commander of the VRS headquarters, General Ratko Mladic, personally took over the Srebrenica operation and, together with his security services, was responsible for the crimes.

After the fall of the UN "safe haven", between 25,000 and 30,000 Muslim women and children were deported to Bosnian territory. An estimated 7,000 local Muslim men and boys disappeared. Over 2,000 bodies have since been recovered from mass graves in the area.

The prosecution has presented numerous documents indicating Krstic issued orders to mop up remaining groups of Bosnian army 28th Division soldiers and civilians.

When asked to clarify events described in combat reports and intercepted radio communications, Krstic has responded with "I don't remember", "I don't know" or "I've never seen those documents before." Other events, the general claimed, only became known to him in court.