Ex-Bosnian-Serb army Chief of Staff Ratko Mladic, the man said to have had command responsibility for the Srebrenica Massacre, has still not been traced. But, 15 years after those terrible events, his war diaries have surfaced.
The Srebrenica Massacre occurred in July 1995 during the Bosnian War and is estimated to have cost the lives of over 8000 mainly Bosnian men and boys. It is the largest mass murder in Europe since the Second World War and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which is situated in The Hague, ruled in 2004 that the events constituted genocide.
The operation, which also included the ethnic cleansing of between 20 and 30 thousand refugees, was principally carried out by elements drawn from the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the direct orders of Ratko Mladic.
Mladic’s diaries from that time were found in February by Serbian police and are now being studied by the Hague Tribunals responsible for trials for war crimes committed during the Bosnian War.
The diaries consist of over 100 sound recordings as well as handwritten notebooks, cellphone cards, memory sticks and various documents and are said to provide evidence of top-level coordination between Bosnian and Serb military forces, an allegation which both countries have always refused to admit.
Information to be found in the diaries includes day-to-day accounts of military and logistical strategy, orders and dates as well as the names of various foreign envoys that Mladic met and details of their conversations. Not all the information has been released, but lawyers who are aware of its existence say that some of it will be used in the trial of another alleged war criminal, former president of the auto-proclaimed Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzogovina Radovan Karadzic. His trial at The Hague is ongoing.
Details of various meetings between Mladic and ex-Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic are also said to be in the diaries. Milosevic died during his trial for war crimes in 2006.
These concrete reminders of the Massacre shall doubtless be foremost in the minds of those who will attend today’s commemoration ceremonies, which will include the final burial of the remains of 775 massacre victims. The commemoration will be held at the memorial center of Potocari, near Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Presidents Boris Tadic (Serbia), Ivo Josipovic (Croatia), and Filip Vujanovic (Montenegro) are expected to attend.
One person who is not expected to attend however is Ratko Mladic. Still on the run, he may be reminded today of something he once wrote, in upper case, in his diaries. It read “REFUSE THE PLAN, CONTINUE THE WAR.” He wrote those words in 1994, just one year before the Srebrenica Massacre…