Witness Claims "Only 400" Executed at Srebrenica
|Publisher||Institute for War and Peace Reporting|
|Publication Date||26 July 2013|
|Citation / Document Symbol||TRI Issue 800|
|Cite as||Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Witness Claims "Only 400" Executed at Srebrenica, 26 July 2013, TRI Issue 800, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/51f78b984.html [accessed 26 July 2016]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
A defence witness testifying at the trial of former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic this week claimed that only around 400 individuals exhumed from mass graves around Srebrenica were actually executed, and that other remains found there were not all "victims of the same event".
Dusan Dunjic, a professor of forensic medicine from Belgrade, told judges that he had closely examined the forensic reports on the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre presented by prosecution experts. He said he found them to be "very subjective and full of bias" against the defendant and the "political and military ideals of the Serbs".
Dunjic argued that classifying the remains found at various sites around Srebrenica presented particular problems.
"Many of these men could have been killed after July 1995, or before July 1995, many injuries could have been caused post mortem, so there is no reason to consider them all victims of the same event, and especially not of executions during the same event," he told the court.
Dunjic added that only a "very limited number of around 400" bodies discovered in the mass graves could be considered victims of executions.
"There is a certain number of bodies which were exhumed with their hands bound by wire or rope and where we can beyond reasonable doubt state that they have been executed," he said.
Dunjic emphasised that it was the presence of bound hands rather than blindfolds that was significant.
"Blindfolds over eyes do not necessarily imply that their eyes had been bound, but that they may have been wearing some military markings which then simply fell down," he said.
Cross examining the witness, prosecutor Chris Mitchell asked him why this claim was not included in any of his earlier statements or reports, referring to two written reports he had prepared for Karadzic's defence.
"I don't know," the witness replied.
In one of these reports, which were admitted into evidence, the witness claimed that it was impossible that all the victims were killed in July 1995 because some of the bodies were found in winter clothing.
The prosecution then presented Dunjic with a photograph from Potocari from July 1995 showing Bosniak men wearing jackets and pullovers. The witness replied that he could "clearly differentiate between people wearing leather jackets or pullovers and people wearing winter clothes", adding that "leather jackets and pullovers are not winter clothes".
"And it would be a completely logical conclusion that someone found wearing winter clothes in a mass grave was killed in winter," Dunjic continued.
He added that there were indications that some victims were buried long after the time of death, "after the bodies were already decomposed".
Mitchell countered that it was a fact "known since World War II" that bodies located in different parts or various depths in a mass grave would reach different stages of decomposition despite death occurring at the same time.
Dunjic agreed, but added that "even though that theory is admissible, it doesn't make the other theory any less acceptable or even wrong".
Karadzic, the president of Bosnia's self-declared Republika Srpska, from 1992 to 1996, is accused of planning and overseeing the massacre of more than 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in July 1995, as well as the 44-month siege of Sarajevo that left nearly 12,000 people dead.
Prosecutors allege that he is responsible for crimes of genocide, persecution, extermination, murder and forcible transfer which "contributed to achieving the objective of the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from Bosnian Serb-claimed territory".
The trial continues next week.