Mladic in Srebrenica – Day 3
Click on icons for more details. View a larger map. The map above illustrates Mladic’s movements on July 13, 1995, two days after the fall of Srebrenica. Although no video evidence is available on this day, his presence in the Srebrenica area has been confirmed by numerous documentary and eyewitness sources. Yellow icons denote Mladic ...
Click on icons for more details. View a larger map.
The map above illustrates Mladic’s movements on July 13, 1995, two days after the fall of Srebrenica. Although no video evidence is available on this day, his presence in the Srebrenica area has been confirmed by numerous documentary and eyewitness sources. Yellow icons denote Mladic sightings supported by multiple pieces of evidence; the blue icon at Bratunac indicates a sighting by a single eye-witness. The red marker with a dot records a massacre of 1,000 or so Muslim prisoners in a warehouse near Kravica. Click on the individual icons for more details.
Mladic began his day with a regular morning meeting with his senior commanders at which he ordered the Bosnian Serb police to kill "about 8,000 Muslim soldiers" attempting to reach Bosnian government-controlled territory. He was referring to a column of armed men and unarmed refugees that had fled northwards from Srebrenica, many of whom were blocked in woods near the village of Konjevic Polje. He did not distinguish between the soldiers and the refugees.
At 10:00, Mladic gave a morale-boosting speech to Serb troops preparing to attack another United Nations "safe area", at Zepa. (Click on the yellow icon at the bottom of the map.) Later that morning, he drove through Bratunac to a place called Sandici meadow, where Muslim refugees who had managed to escape from Srebrenica were surrendering en masse to Bosnian Serb forces. It is difficult to be precise about the time he arrived at the meadow, but the best estimate is around 13:00. The video below shows terrified Muslim prisoners being rounded up at Sandici.
According to multiple eyewitness accounts, Mladic addressed the prisoners at Sandici, telling them that they would not be harmed. One prisoner, Hakija Husejnovic told the American reporter David Rohde in 1995 that he summoned up the courage to ask Mladic whether he could look for his shoes, which had been confiscated by Bosnian Serb soldiers, along with his backpack. Mladic assured him that he would be issued with "new shoes."
After addressing the prisoners at Sandici, Mladic drove northwest toward Konjevic Polje, where more Muslims were surrendering. While at Konjevic Polje, he was approached by a Bosnian Serb intelligence officer, Momir Nikolic, who asked him what would happen to the prisoners. According to Nikolic, Mladic drew his hand across his chest, indicating that the prisoners would all be executed.
Around 13:30, Mladic moved onto the nearby town of Nova Kasaba, where hundreds of Muslim prisoners were gathered at a soccer field. He addressed this group of prisoners as well, promising them "food and water." He ended up in the town of Vlasenica, some fifteen miles to the west, where he held a ceremony at the Drina Corps military headquarters for the appointment of a new commander, around 17:00.
In the meantime, the prisoners who had been captured at Sandici meadow were marched a mile back down the road to a warehouse outside the village of Kravica. (See red marker.) After a Muslim prisoner attempted to seize a gun from a Bosnian Serb soldier, other guards opened fire on the prisoners, and threw hand grenades into the warehouse. Investigators believe that many of the prisoners detained at Sandici meadow were killed in this incident, which seems to have begun around 1700 while Mladic was in Vlasenica. Hakija Husejnovic was the only known survivor.
A more controversial question is whether Mladic returned that evening to the Bratunac-Kravica area from Vlasenica, or whether he remained at his military HQ. A Srebrenica survivor, Hurem Suljic, has testified that he saw Mladic on the evening of July 13 in Bratunac, but this has not been confirmed by any other witness. An intercepted phone call at 18:22 suggests that Mladic was still in Vlasenica at that time, but it is possible that he could have returned to Bratunac later in the evening to supervise the movement of prisoners.
Whatever Mladic’s whereabouts on the evening of July 13, he seems to have been well aware of the crimes committed by troops under his command. At 22:30, he issued an order closing all the roads in the region to non-authorized personnel and banning journalists from entering the area. Prosecutors argue that the order is clear evidence of his determination to conceal what was happening.
Given the fact that the Kravica massacre was triggered by the attempted seizure of a weapon from a Serb guard, the Mladic defense could argue that the murders there were unpremeditated. That argument cannot be applied, however, to the mass killings that began on July 14, which I will address in my next post. Click here for other posts in this series.