Srebrenica video prompts arrests in Serbia

Ana Uzelac of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting’s Tribunal Update, which monitors the war crimes trials at The Hague, offers this account (reprinted by the Bosnian Institute News) of the implications of the Srebrenica massacre video which has emerged. If these odious “Scorpions” were really under the control of the Serbian Interior Ministry, defenses of Milosevic as out of the Bosnian loop start to look pretty specious. Writes Uzelac:

Srebrenica Execution Tape Prompts Arrests

As reported in the latest Tribunal Update from IWPR, a shocking video shown at the Milosevic trial has prompted the Belgrade government to round up some of the Serbian ‘Skorpion’ troops involved in a massacre of Bosnian civilian prisoners

Belgrade moved on 2 June to arrest a number of men suspected of participating in the executions of a number of Srebrenica Muslims, after a video recording of the crime was unexpectedly shown earlier this week in the Hague tribunal and later aired in Serbia.

Hague tribunal prosecutors showed a videotape on 1 June depicting what they claim are members of a notorious paramilitary unit, allegedly operating under the control of Serbian secret services, executing Bosnian Muslims from the fallen enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The tape is considered to be one of the strongest pieces of publicly available evidence of Milosevic’s government’s involvement in the biggest atrocity of the Bosnian war and, if authenticated, could significantly boost the genocide charges against him.

The tape was shown during the cross-examination of former Serbian assistant interior minister Obrad Stevanovic, who has testified in Slobodan Milosevic’s defence case for the past three weeks. A number of Serbian TV stations rebroadcast the tape later that evening, causing shockwaves through society.

The spokeswoman for the Belgrade war crimes prosecutor’s office confirmed to independent Serbian media organisation B92 that the ten people arrested were members of the Scorpions unit, and that the executions were committed near the village of Trnovo on the slopes of Jahorina mountain, near Sarajevo…

Serbian prime minister Vojislav Kostunica – for a long time staunch opponent of the tribunal – appeared on a press conference in Belgrade on 2 June together with the Hague chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte to announce the arrests, which came after the tape had been aired in Serbia. ‘I think it is important for our public that we reacted immediately and that based on this shocking and horrible footage several of those who are involved in this crime are arrested and will answer to justice,’ he said.

The Hague prosecutors have come across this potentially vital piece of evidence almost a year after they closed their case against Milosevic – and due to complex courtroom procedures, they may face difficulties in including it in their case. According to IWPR sources they received it only in late winter this year – roughly a year after they closed their case against Milosevic.

It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors would seek to admit the tape as evidence at this stage…

Tribunal insiders and observers seemed to agree that – if authenticated – this could be one of the more significant pieces of evidence proving Belgrade’s direct involvement in the Srebrenica massacres. Milosevic is accused among others of genocide against Bosnian Muslims – and the Srebrenica killings are the only legally established case of genocide in Bosnia.

Serbian governments have repeatedly denied any connection with the massacre at Srebrenica. But tribunal prosecutors insist that Belgrade was involved through units under the command of the secret service, which were under the formal command of the Serbia’s interior ministry and informally directly subordinate to Milosevic himself.

One document that prosecutors had submitted as evidence in the trial was a written order of the Bosnian Serb interior ministry to ‘transfer the Serbian interior ministry units [under its command] from positions near Sarajevo to positions near Srebrenica’ – but no evidence proving that such movement of troops happened has emerged to date.

In his earlier testimony, Stevanovic confirmed that some Serbian interior ministry units were indeed dispatched to the Serb-controlled parts of Bosnia and put under Bosnian Serb command. He insisted, however, that those units were only participating in ‘normal police activities’ there and were stationed in and around the town of Banja Luka – a hundred kilometres away from Srebrenica.

Other potentially important pieces of evidence relating to Serbia’s involvement in the Bosnian war and possibly the Srebrenica massacre itself are the minutes of a meeting of the Supreme Defence Council – rump Yugoslavia’s main military coordinative body – relating to this period. However, the vast majority of these have been kept under protective measures on Belgrade’s insistence…

While the prosecutors refused to comment officially on what they intend to do with the tape once it is authenticated, tribunal sources and observers suggested a whole array of ways in which it could be used as evidence. One option would be for the prosecution to ask for the admission of the video as important fresh evidence in the Milosevic trial, but would need to prove that it represents an important new contribution to their case.

It could also be used in the rebuttal phase of the trial, or prosecutors may even ask for the re-opening of their case on the basis of the tape’s importance, according to Edgar Chen, the permanent Milosevic trial observer for the Coalition for International Justice. ‘It is that new and that serious,’ he said.

The video could also play a role in another case – that against the head of Serbian secret service Jovica Stanisic, who was recently released from The Hague detention unit and is awaiting the start of his case in Belgrade…

‘[I]f the tape is authenticated and if it is accepted into evidence, this could already be quite devastating for Milosevic’s defence case’, Chen said.

See our last post on Serbia, and our recent run-ins with Slobo-sympathizers on this blog:
sample one, sample two, sample three

  1. More NATO disinfo.
    I was afraid this nonsense would turn up on your little blog. If you don’t want to be accused echoing the CIA/STAte Department line stop using sources like IWPR funded by the US STate Department and The National Endowment for Democracy. The Dutch report on Srebrenica very clearly stated that there was no link to Milosevic found. The Prosecution suddenly gets this tape as their case is falling apart. Even the US/Soros NATO bloc funded IWPR uses language in its report indicating massive doubt as to the tape’s
    “prosecutors showed…what they CLAIMED(my
    emphasis)…If it’s authenticated…Prosecutors claim
    that those executed are Srebrenica Muslims, but stop
    short of explaining how they can be sure of this”. And
    the CIJ (essentially the PR wing of the ICTY and other
    tribunals of its nature) states that “no date stamp
    was visible” on the portion of the tape where the
    executions took place.
    One should take this with at least a grain of salt
    and be skeptical. Even IF the executions on the
    (unauthenticated) tape actually took place it does not
    exactly show the “genocide” of 7,000 Muslims men
    continually claimed. It points to executions of some
    individuals, believed to be guilty of war crimes
    against Serbs, which the Republika Srpska Srebrenica
    report of 2002 (suppressed for its alleged Serbian
    nationalism) also discussed. Prosecution witnesses have testified that the Scorpions were never under the control of Serbia and so does Stevanovic. It’s a strong claim to say the ICTY is showing forged documents but then again I’ve watched the ICTY in action and I believe they’re perfectly capable of doing it.
    What kind of an institution is the ICTY? An illegal kangaroo court and a propaganda arm of NATO. I have followed the Milosevic trial for quite some time even reading a good number of the transcripts. The Prosecution’s case has collapsed which is why they’re resorting to these tricks and spin

    I recommend any and all of these pieces on the ICTY itself.

    Edward Herman’s look at the ICTY as a PR Wing for

    An informative piece by Balkans analyst Diana
    Johnstone which originally appeared in The Nation back
    in 1997.

    Chris Black’s piece “An Impartial Tribunal, really”
    covers Tribunal’s funding

    John Laughland shows how the ICTY is largely the
    opposite of the Nuremburg Tribunal. See this Guardian
    piece here

    I would recommend you read through all these pieces on the ICTY before you accept it as a real and legitimate court. Regarding our last exchange I note that in reply to ALL the pieces I sent the only thing you cited was a link to Albanian nationalist propaganda FROM 6 YEARS AGO. The propaganda and the mass graves were shown to be false under investigation. You should deal seriously with the issues and stop attacking everyone who disagrees with you as a “Slobo sympathizer” or a “genocide apologist”. There are a large number of sources (including ICTY, IWPR, the CIJ, and SENSE) designed to provide various versions of NATO spin much of which you have swallowed.

    1. What a relief!
      Most of the links you posted don’t work, so I am spared the dilemma of either removing them (and allowing you to cry “censorship”) or allowing my website to serve as a conduit for Slobo-sucker genocide-apologist propaganda.

      I’ll say it again. The “left” is going to deserve its own marginalization as long as it has one standard for Bush, Sharon and Uribe and another for Milosevic. Especially appalling is that poorly-named “Global Research” site where the buffoonish Michel Chossudovsky argues in one breath that Osama must still be working for the CIA because he was back in the ’80s, and in the next that Karadzic and his goons had no link to Milosevic. What, no double standards here!

      Then there’s the usual logical sleight-of-hand. Bosnia was a mutual bloodbath, with atrocities committed by all sides–despite the fact that the Muslims are accused of nothing anywhere so spectacular as 8,000 dead in one day at Serbrenica. There were no massacres of Albanians in Kosova–despite the fact that 800,000 Albanians were sufficiently terrified that they chose to flee their villages.

      If you don’t want to be called a duck, stop quacking, Dimitri.

      1. As I expected you still
        As I expected you still resort to name-calling and don’t really address the issues. If you are seriously considering a resort to outright censorship then I’m done with you. You are already serving as a conduit for Soros sucker NATO apologist propaganda and you should stop. With every post you continue to show how ill informed you are.As per double standards you are hardly one to talk. NATo’s attack was wrong but NATO’s court is legitimate and so are all its agitprop institutions? You continue to accept most of the lies that made the bombing possible while attacking anyone who rejects the false premises. All those who don’t join in the ritual two minute hate of Milosevic are “Slobo suckers” etc. Not only Albanians but also Serbs, Roma, Turks and many others fled Kosovo to get away from the bombing and to get away from fighting between the KLA and Yugoslav forces. Albanians were also subjected to panic and horror stories from KLA, NATO or Albanian media and enormous pressure from the KLA and Albanian mafia. Part of the exodus really was staged. After the bombing not only did all the Albanian refugees return but also many KLA members and Albanians from Albania proper came into Kosovo as well.
        As for Srebrenica there is plenty of evidence that the numbers were not on that scale and that the events did not unfold as you describe. Check my second post.
        Anyways, I’m done. You are not willing to listen on this and it’s hard to believe you ever were. I have examined the evidence and done my own research into the matter. If you want to put up Serb-bashing posts and repeat the nonsense of blatant NATO apologists or Serb bashers you can. It’s your blog.

        1. Last word, I hope
          I did not fail to address the issues. I called you and your cohorts out on on moral double standards and disingenuous logic. There is a difference between naming a particular political pathology such as Slobo-suckery and mere substance-free ad hominem attack–which is, incidentally, what you engage in. It is not “NATO’s court,” it is the UN’s court. If Soros is a NATO “agitprop institution” funny that he opposes the US military’s campaign in Colombia. I’m sure you have your arguments for using these epithets, but instead of stating them clearly (so they would have to stand on their paltry merits), you just parrot them as if they were accepted truths, and hope they will therefore be accepted by others. Similarly, you refer to “lies” and “false premises,” without explicitly stating what these are, implying (rather than stating, which requires intellectual courage) that the documented realities of Srebrenica and the cleansing of Kosova didn’t happen. (On Srebrenica, “the numbers were not on that scale and…the events did not unfold as you describe” is as specific as you dare get–again, implying without stating that it wasn’t really Europe’s worst massacre since WWII, or that someone other than the Serbs carried it out.) Weasily and pathetic. Yeah, that’s “name-calling,” but it is accurate and argumented name-calling, not empty and bogus name-calling like “NATO’s court” and “agitprop institution.”

          None of the 800,000 Albanian refugees said they were fleeing the bombing or “the fighting.” They said they were fleeing the Serbs, and (for better or worse) seem to have overwhelmingly supported the KLA and NATO intervention. You can thank your buddy Slobo for having driven the Albanians to such positions.

          I can only hope you mean it when you say you’re done. You are correct: its my blog, and I have no responsibility to provide a forum for neo-fascism. Once again, nobody is censoring you–you are free to get your own damn blog.

          I have never posted any “Serb-bashing.” Just Slobo-bashing. This is exactly the same propaganda play that the ADL uses when it accuses critics of Israel of “anti-Semitism.”

          Can we quit now, Dimitri?