28.03.2006.

MLADIC WAS MILOSEVIC’S AGENT

To illustrate why he considered Mladic’s regular consultations with Milosevic extremely unusual, British general Richard Dannatt said it would be as if he, as the commander of the British Land Command were to go to Paris to consult the French president on military operations in Northern Ireland. Andras Riedlmeyer, the second BH expert to testify before the International Court of Justice, said that in BH the “cultural landscape was transformed” parallel to the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population: it was cleansed of the minarets and Catholic church spires. They “disappeared together with the people who used to see those landmarks as the visible signs of their presence on that soil”

Through the testimony of British general Richard Dannatt and American expert for the Ottoman cultural heritage in the Balkans, Andras Riedlmeyer, the BH legal representatives were trying to achieve two objectives. First, to corroborate their argument that in the 1992-1995 war, the Republika Srpska Army was acting as an “agent” of a foreign state, under the general control of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, as it was styled at the time, and second, to introduce yet another element of genocide: destruction of cultural and religious monuments belonging to Bosnian Muslims and Croats, in addition to murder, destruction, detention, deportation and rape.

According to General Dannatt, Commander-in-Chief Land Command of the British Army and former commander of the British troops in UNPROFOR and SFOR, the VRS “did act independently to a certain degree”, but in operational terms, it was an “agent” acting to implement the “general objective” defined in Belgrade. At the beginning, in 1992 and 1993, the Bosnian Serb political leadership shared the same objective. General Dannatt described the “general objective” or “joint intent” shared by Belgrade and Pale as “to create a state in which all Serbs would live, whose territory would be larger that that of the FRY”, because it would include parts of Croatia and BH where Serbs lived. The fact that Karadzic and Milosevic fell out at a later stage is not relevant, in General Dannatt’s opinion, because General Mladic continued going to Belgrade to consult Milosevic regularly up until the very end of the war.

General Dannatt considers such consultations between the commander of an army with the president of another state extremely unusual. It would be as if he, as the commander in Chief of the British Land Command were to go to Paris to consult the French president Chirac on military operations in Northern Ireland.

It is just as unusual, the British general contends, for “officers belonging to an army, on that army’s payroll… to serve in the army of another state”. Such practice, Dannatt claims, “doesn’t exist anywhere in the world”. He agreed with a statement made by his colleague, General Rupert Smith, that “whoever pays you is usually the one that commands you”. Smith made that statement in his testimony at the Milosevic trial in October 2003.

According to General Dannatt, in addition to the officer payroll, Belgrade provided all the other key elements crucial for the functioning of the VRS: weapons and other equipment, logistics support, training and intelligence. The witness noted in particular on VRS’s total dependence of VJ in ammunition: from small arms rounds to artillery shells and on to anti-aircraft ammunition. He quoted a speech Mladic made in 1995. The VRS Chief of Main Staff said then that 43 percent of the ammunition expended during the war had been “inherited” from the JNA, 47 percent had been provided by the VJ, while only 0 percent had come from other sources.

General Dannatt spoke about VRS and VJ joint operations, which were sometimes joined by the Serbian Army of Krajina. He quoted “three clear examples”: joint operations in the Drina river valley, in Srebrenica and in the Bihac pocket. He also spoke about the major role played by the paramilitary formations in the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia, particularly in 1992. As he said, the “worst” of those “came from Serbia”. The VRS documents he analyzed in preparation for his testimony at the trial of General Radislav Krstic before the ICTY, led the British general to conclude that Ratko Mladic had accepted the command over the paramilitary formations and the Territorial Defense units. According to General Dannatt, this meant that Mladic “accepted the responsibility, because command and responsibility cannot be split”.

[IMAGE]1975[/IMAGE]Andras Riedlmeyer, Harvard expert for the Ottoman cultural heritage in the Balkans, claims that it is no accident that the mosques, Catholic and Orthodox churches and synagogues were built in a radius of a few hundred meters. Quite the contrary, he said at the beginning of his testimony, “the architectural disposition was a deliberate and considered political act”. “The people who can’t stand each other”, he went on to say, “will not build their homes and their most important religious and secular monuments in the shadow of the homes and monuments of the others”.

And then the long tradition of community “was deliberately and violently disrupted in the 1992-1995 war”, as the “cultural and religious heritage of the targeted communities was itself targeted by willful, systematic and widespread destruction”.

The final result of the campaign in the 26 municipalities researched by Riedlmeyer is as follows: 958 mosques, 270 Catholic churches and 23 Catholic monasteries were destroyed or damaged. In the VRS-controlled territory, virtually no Muslim places of worship or religious monuments were left undamaged. Three quarters of all Catholic churches were either destroyed or damaged.

The first attack on places of worship in late 1991 in the environs of Nevesinje. Riedlmeyer found only one of the walls of the torn-down mosque standing. The attacks intensified in April 1992, when the JNA and the paramilitary formations from Serbia took control of the towns and villages in Eastern Bosnia.

Riedlmeyer illustrated his testimony with the images of mosques and other monuments before and after their destruction. The places where they stood were later turned into parking lots, parks, lawns or landfills. The destruction would as a rule not be part of the armed conflict and was not “collateral” damage as the warring factions exchanged fire.

Parallel to the ethnic cleansing of the non-Serb population, Riedlmeyer said, the Bosnian “cultural landscape was transformed” systematically and deliberately, as it was cleansed of minarets and the Catholic church spires. They “disappeared together with the people who used to see those landmarks as the visible signs of their presence on that soil”. The destruction of the architecture, Riedlmeyer concluded, “was linked with the destruction of the communities it symbolized”, and can thus be considered an element of genocide.