Bosnian general blames Karadzic for atrocity

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The Independent Online

A Bosnian Serb general accused of orchestrating a massacre that virtually wiped out a town's Muslim population has claimed the Bosnian Serb President, Radovan Karadzic, and his senior military commander, Ratko Mladic, were to blame for the atrocity.

A Bosnian Serb general accused of orchestrating a massacre that virtually wiped out a town's Muslim population has claimed the Bosnian Serb President, Radovan Karadzic, and his senior military commander, Ratko Mladic, were to blame for the atrocity.

Radislav Krstic, who denies charges of genocide, told the International War Crimes in The Hague he "no longer had control" by the time the so-called "safe-haven" of Srebrenica was attacked in 1995. He said General Mladic, an indicted war criminal still on the run, "really did take control and issued orders".

General Krstic said President Karadzic, who is also indicted but remains at large, decided to launch the offensive against the enclave. General Mladic arrived unexpectedly the next day at army headquarters and took over the operation. An estimated 7,500 men and boys were killed in the massacre, described by prosecutors as the worst atrocity against civilians in Europe since the Holocaust.

It also changed Westernperceptions by exposing the impotence of Dutch peace-keepers who had declared Srebrenica a UN designated safe haven in 1993. Despite the UN presence, the enclave was attacked by Bosnian Serbs on 6 July 1995 and five days later Dutch UN peace-keepers gave up their attempts at resistance. Their battalion of 450 soldiers had been reduced in the run-up to assault.

General Krstic tried to distance himself from the crime by reading from an official letter from the Bosnian Serb military which, he said, showed that President Karadzic had ordered the attack.

General Krstic said he had not gone to Potocari, the UN base outside Srebrenica where men and boys were separated from women and taken in trucks to makeshift detention centres in sports halls and schools. Witnesses testified that thousands were shot and some of the critically wounded had been left begging to be put out of their misery.

General Krstic said his orders, until General Mladic arrived, had been to surround the UN protection zone but not to head into Srebrenica itself.

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