In recent Most RFE talked about why in Serbia, except for the rare exception, not gone high-ranking military and police officers of the Milosevicregime suspected of being responsible for war crimes.Interviewees were Sandra Orlović , executive director of the humanitarian law from Belgrade, andBruno Vekarić , Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor of Serbia.
There was talk about whether the senior officers are not prosecuted because they make their arraignment open the question of state responsibility for war crimes, whether the Ministry of Internal Affairs of hiding documents about the involvement of senior police officials in war crimes, if the individual generals and senior officers transferred part of the documents in its archives, why has not filed any charges against of persons belonging to Arkan’s Tigers, is the identity of Arkan with the famous photographs by Ron Haviv which shows the soldier who shot dead body of a woman in Bijeljina in 1992, as well as why not researched the responsibility of General Dikovic , Chief of Staff of the Army of Serbia andGoran Radosavljevic – Guri , a member of the Main Committee of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, who commanded the police and military units during the war in Kosovo.
Karabeg Ms. Orlović, in the recently published report of your fund on war crimes trials in Serbia, it is argued that the prosecution of war crimes, since its establishment in 2003, rarely showed readiness to accuse the officers of the army and the police are responsible for war crimes. How to interpret this?
War Crimes Prosecution not ready to investigate the responsibility of senior military and police officials
Sandra Orlović : The claim that the prosecution of war crimes is not willing to investigate the responsibility of senior military and police officials repeated from year to year in our reports on war crime trials. That our findings are based on the numbers and the insight into the position of those persons against whom the prosecution so far filed charges. On that basis, we conclude that the prosecution selectively approach the prosecution of war crimes. I’m afraid that it listens to the pulse quite makers and the public when you decide against whom to initiate proceedings and issue an indictment.
The best example of the crimes in Kosovo. After the verdict in The Hague, which was finally adjudicated that the Serbian government had no plan to expel Albanians from Kosovo, it is clear that everything that happened in Kosovo in 1998 and 1999 had a sign of state terror. It is in the Hague Judgments and explicitly says. In contrast to the approach of the ICTY, which is supported by overwhelming evidence, the local prosecutor’s office has so far raised, it seems to me, only seven indictments for crimes committed by Serbian forces, and the highest-ranking defendant was Lieutenant of the Yugoslav Army.
While the ICTY speaks of the state plan, which was implemented units in the field, the Prosecution submits that the crimes accounted for some units that are out of control or have used the period of the bombing and anarchy.It’s just a legal but not common sense is not sustainable.
There is a law on cooperation with the Hague tribunal whose rules are very clear that the national prosecutor’s office prosecuted the middle and lower-ranking military and police officials, while the Hague tribunal judge those who are in the highest places
Bruno Vekarić : I can not agree with many things he presented Ms. Orlova. There is a law on cooperation with the Hague tribunal whose rules are very clear that the national prosecutor’s office prosecuted the middle and lower-ranking military and police officials, while the Hague tribunal judge those who are in the highest places.
As you know, the whole military, police and political leadership of Serbia found itself in the Hague. This does not mean that we are not able to be more active, but we had a very important role in the preparation of cases that took place in The Hague. Hearing the witnesses who testified in the Hague process, we performed in Serbia, which means that we ourselves are part of the proceedings that were held before the ICTY and that ultimately resulted in convictions. Only after making these judgments, and we get the opportunity to determine the responsibility of senior officials who were not covered by the Hague process. Because, when the Hague finished the job became available to us a number of documents and information.
So far, we are very often happened that when the Hague tribunal seeking information and documents, we get a completely darkened texts, so we can not determine the identities of witnesses, or anything else that would help us in conducting the proceedings. Furthermore, it is not true statement that we listen to the pulse of politics, because it is precisely our prosecution often been targeted by various political options that were not only against the cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, but also against the fact that the water here any proceedings for war crimes .
I would add that it has recently started an investigation against General Zivanovic, therefore – no longer lieutenant highest-ranking officer among the accused, but the investigation against Živanovića started after the publication of the report by the Humanitarian Law. A large number of ICTY cases far exceeds the national judiciary, so I expect that will increase the number of prosecutions against those who were in high positions. I would like to say that neither Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia have not done much in terms of prosecuting those who are in their countries were in senior positions in the army and police. Serbia is that the furthest left and did not correct the fact that we have only seven acts, but they have a lot more.
We put up the most convincing indictment – 170 is currently in the 20 investigations and 34 cases in the pre-procedure. These methods are just water and against some high-ranking soldiers and officers. It should be noted that the Prosecutor’s limited capacity. Items work Prosecutor and his deputies. We were seven deputies, and at this time we have 14 trials and, as I said, 20 investigations and 34 preliminary investigation proceedings.Seven deputies can hardly all be overcome.
Sandra Orlović : You mention problems related to the protection of witnesses, particularly police and military insiders. Due to the lack of protection they are often reluctant to testify about the crimes committed by members of their unit. In addition, the Prosecution had to deal with at one time or other activities, primarily the search for Hague fugitives. All of these are objective circumstances that may affect the number and quality of indictment. However, it is evident that in some cases the Prosecution paid attention on what might be the reaction of the authorities and the public.
I will mention only the case of General Dikovic, the present Chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army. Our fund in early 2012, went public with a document that contained ample evidence that the general Diković responsible for the crimes that have occurred in his area of responsibility, which took place against the crimes that killed more than 400 Kosovo Albanians. I’m talking about the crimes that were committed during the NATO bombing in 1999. We then say that an officer like Dikovic is not worthy to be chief of the General Staff of the Serbian Army. We were amazed that the Prosecution responded to our document.
Less than 48 hours after we published a paper on the general DikovićuTužilaštvo has denied all of our allegations. It is impossible in such a short time to check all the allegations in the document.
Less than 48 hours after we published the document Prosecutor’s Office has come out with a statement in which he denied all of our allegations. We were shocked because we thought that it was impossible for such a short time to check all the allegations in the document. It was obvious – and it’s not just our impression, but also a number of human rights organizations – that the prosecution responded to public pressure and under pressure from the defense minister, who was very sharp in his reactions to our document.
Bruno Vekarić It is true that the Fund has filed a criminal complaint, but it’s one thing if he was criminally responsible for war crimes and murder civilians, and the other is it worthy of a function or something else. Our response was very clear. After leaving the Fund to the public we are told that the information we have, as at the moment is absolutely not true. War crimes prosecutor, Mr. Vukcevic, repeatedly said he would against anyone who find the area of responsibility, regardless of who they are, to be launched court proceedings. Just something happened now with General Zivanovic. We have initiated the process when we come to the evidence.
Karabeg : Did you check all the information given to you by the Fund on Mr. DIKOVIĆ?
Bruno Vekarić course we checked, but for now we do not have sufficient evidence that he committed war crimes.
Sandra Orlović : I explained I would position the Fund in relation to the responsibility of General Diković. Our document is the result of a serious analysis of witness statements and military documents showing that the general Diković was part of a mechanism that is controlled and implemented a policy of terror and mass atrocities against Kosovo Albanians. That is why we are advocating to be removed from office by the then performed and which still performs. I still maintain that the prosecution did not conduct a comprehensive investigation. In the end, Mr. Diković was part of the command structure and its responsibility can not be determined only by the hearing of witnesses of crimes and the people who were on the ground, but by establishing the chain of command that existed at that time.
We believe that the evidence presented to us, is not sufficient to initiate investigation against Mr. Diković
Bruno Vekarić I would like to remind you that neither the Hague tribunal has failed to establish command responsibility, especially in the later cases – in cases Perisic, Stanisic and Simatovic. This command responsibility, especially how he treats our law, it is very dangerous zone that would be izletali with such dramatic statements.
I’m not saying that this office is not and will not check the facts, because we want to get all of the details, especially to witness to them in Kosovo very difficult to come. In this sense, our cooperation with the Fund for Humanitarian Law and precious they are to us in many cases allow us to come to some witnesses. In this particular case we could not get to witness mentioned by Mrs. Sandra Orlović, and we believe that the evidence that we presented, have not been sufficient to launch an investigation against Mr. Diković.
Karabeg : What about the members of Arkan’s Tigers, who committed many crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and were very well documented?Did any of them accused of these crimes?
Bruno Vekarić : This is one of the priority items in our prosecution. It is about fifty events, a large number of persons who are potentially suspect.We have not dealt with that because it was part of the process against Arkan. When Arkan was assassinated, it was all put on the agenda of the Hague Tribunal and we are just now signing memorandums, given the opportunity to deal with and these cases. We have analyzed all the statements made in the case of Arkan pulled what it seems to the major war crime and move into further action.
It is very difficult to understand that after so many years, no member of Arkan’s Serbian Volunteer Guard was sentenced
Sandra Orlović : It is very difficult to understand that after so many years, no member of Arkan’s Serbian Volunteer Guard was convicted, even before the Hague Tribunal, and even at the domestic level. It is even weirder because the crimes were well documented.
There are so many photos and videos that have all of us have committed to the awareness, so when you think of the crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the first associations were crimes of Arkan’s Tigers.The unit has established the State Security Service of Serbia, and research its war path and crimes committed, is a really big challenge and requires great courage and skill to detect these crimes and prosecute. Given that the Office of the War Crimes in Serbia for many years listening to in this case is, I think the public and the victims’ families had to see some concrete results of these investigations. This raises the question why after all this time we have not seen a single case.
Karabeg : There is one famous photographs by Ron Haviv, who has toured the world in 1992, which shows how a soldier Arkan’s unit foot hitting a dead woman lying on the sidewalk in Bijeljina. Did the prosecution ever investigate this case? Is it an attempt to find a soldier with these photos?
If we go out in public with those to which we have come in the investigative process is very fast we did not have any in Serbia from potential suspects.
Bruno Vekarić Of course, this is completely investigated and it was one of the topics on which to base our future investigations. On the occasion of what Mrs. Orlović said that we had to go public with that which we do in the investigative process there, I think it is very naive request. Because if we do that very soon we would have to Serbia from any potential suspects. In addition, if we prematurely went public with things, their lawyers would be able to take advantage of. The case we received about 2,000 pages of text redacted in The Hague, we have analyzed the photo and on the basis of it came to certain information.
Karabeg : The Prosecution knows who the soldier in the photograph? I do not ask you for your name, but only if you determine his identity is.
Bruno Vekarić I will answer you this way. At that moment the Prosecution would have had enough evidence to be able to issue an order to conduct an investigation, they will do it. Prećutaću things from the preliminary investigation, because I do not have the legal ability nor the right to jeopardize items that we take. I want to say that in addition to the cases we are working on a very large crimes and they will in future very soon enter the next phase of the process. I’m talking about crimes in Štrpci and Dubrava prison in Kosovo, as well as Srebrenica – and not just one event in Srebrenica but on several events.
Karabeg : Is it a problem and what is hiding documents about the involvement of senior officers in crimes? It is said that some of the generals transfer of the documents in their personal archives.
Sandra Orlović : That is correct. Some generals during his testimony at the Hague Tribunal publicly boasted that they took an official military records and move it to his private apartments and houses. But the institutions are hiding documents that can help to ensure accountability for the crimes of soldiers and police. The Fund is currently working on a document which examines the war path of special police units. And special police units – according to what the Hague tribunal found – were indeed striking fist when it comes to crimes against Kosovo Albanians.
We are the Ministry of the Interior sent dozens of requests for information, and still get the answer that they do not have such documentation. At the same time pointing out that the same type of documentation was handed over to the ICTY at a time when Serbia’s progress towards Europe was due to surrender these documents.
So, it is quite certain that the Ministry of Interior neda this documentation. They are especially quick to give a negative response when the request relates to some of the police officials who is still in the ministry. We complained to the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and asked him to use all its legal powers and myself in the archives of the Ministry of Interior check whether these files exist. We’ll see how it goes on. The Fund will in this case go to the European Court of Human Rights. I simply do not agree that the 2014 one Serbian institutions, countries that aspire to EU, hiding documents that may help to shed light on war crimes.
Karabeg Mr. VEKARIĆ, do you have any knowledge that the Ministry of Internal Affairs of hiding documents?
Bruno Vekarić : We do not have that information, but I think Ms. Orlović completely wrong in many details which presented. And we are going to, when we investigate the responsibility of senior officials, often get an answer that is exactly what we were looking killed in the bombing. Then some such paper to appear in The Hague, and we have to go through ordeal to get to this paper with regard to the rules of the Hague Tribunal.Unpleasantly surprised by the Hague Tribunal find documents provided to us by our government authorities said they did not exist, that are burned in a bombing or something. This must be addressed at the state level. There is a law on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, but it is obvious that there are different interpretations of the law by certain state institutions.
Karabeg : Do you have the impression that in Serbia there is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to accountability for war crimes senior officials, military and police officers and members of Arkan’s Tigers?
Guri was one of the people who are mentioned as the main suspect in the murder of brothers were, but because of his current position, social and political, simply untouchable.
Sandra Orlović course there is. It is no secret that a large number of officials, who have played a key role in the implementation of crime policy in the nineties, especially during the conflict in Kosovo, and now in government. I will be very specific and mention police generals Goran Radosavljevic Guri. His name is passed through a number of items that were conducted in the Hague before the local court for war crimes.
He was a person who was in a key position operational commander Pursuit Groups, a phantom police organization that was present almost in all places where the crimes were committed. He was a prominent citizen, businessman, member of the Central Committee of the Serbian Progressive Party and, it seems, untouchable. He was one of the people who are mentioned as the main suspect in the murder of brothers were, but because of his current position, social and political, simply untouchable. Of course, it is not only the lone example of such is still.
Karabeg Did the prosecution ever investigated the case of Goran Radosavljevic Guri and his activities during the Milosevic regime?
Bruno Vekarić Now make me give political answers. I really was not serious when I said – yes, we investigated or are investigating and will explore his responsibility, or to say that he is responsible or not responsible.Ms. Orlović, as a representative of non-governmental organizations, can so to speak, and we, who take court proceedings, we would be very frivolous when we at certain stages of the proceedings out of people’s names. We are responsible for what we do not have more capacity, faster does not work, as many high-ranking officials have not been brought to court, but on the other hand, given the resources and capabilities that we have, I think we have reached a maximum. There are no specific figures on how much we raised the indictment, and how we investigations and pre-trial proceedings.Compare that to other countries in the region.
Karabeg In conclusion, if the prosecution is ready to go to the end of the prosecution of high-ranking officers and officials responsible for war crimes, no matter who it is?
We are ready to go all the way and to find out any war crime for which we have evidence, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a high-ranking official of the army and police
Bruno Vekarić : We are ready to go all the way and to find out any war crime for which we have evidence, regardless of whether the perpetrator is a high-ranking official of the army and the police or pripdanik paramilitaries who robbed and murdered in the former Yugoslavia. For us is not an essential function of the suspect, but try that on the basis of evidence – and they are collected from the Hague tribunal, prosecution authorities in the region, and the institutions in which they may find some of them – we build such an indictment which will convince the Trial Chamber to convict those that we have presented before the court.
Sandra Orlović I think it is opening an investigation against General Dragan Zivanovic good signal. I hope this is the beginning of a different approach and that in the period that lies ahead, raise the question of responsibility of the highest members of the army and police, but also the political establishment.