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3 Years Later, And Still Searching

By George Pumphrey
July 1998

The third  anniversary of  the takeover  of Srebrenica by Bosnian-
Serb troops  on July 11, 1995, has come and gone. The significance
of this  takeover determined  not only  the outcome of the Bosnian
civil war, but reached far beyond the Balkans.

It was  the events  around Srebrenica,  and the subsequent indict-
ments against  the Bosnian Serb political leader, Radovan Karadzic
and the  Bosnian Serb  military Commander, Radko Mladic on charges
of genocide  and crimes against humanity, that changed the politi-
cal constellation  at the  negotiation table  at Dayton.  With its
leadership under  indictment, the Bosnian Serb side had to content
itself with  being represented by Slobodan Milosevic, president of
a, by then, foreign state.

The fact  alone of an international tribunal being given jurisdic-
tion over  people and  events taking place thousands of miles from
the contexts  of those  sitting in  judgement, without an existing
set of  legal norms creates already a new basis for the concept of
"justice". Srebrenica  has been the main source of this tribunal's
credibility and its raison d'être.

As in the past 2 years, this year also the war crimes tribunal has
sent out teams to search for mass graves containing the remains of
the 8,000  Muslim soldiers  that are  widely believed to have been
massacred in  the aftermath  of the takeover. But a closer look at
the background  of the  Tribunal's search  sheds a bit of light on
the shadowy side of the Tribunal's work.

The New York Times published an article written by one of its cor-
respondents, Mike  O'Connor,  (republished  in  the  International
Herald Tribune  May 14, 1998) entitled "Mass Graves in Bosnia Bol-
ster War-Crimes  Cases. This  article is very helpful in examining
the work of the Tribunal in the Hague, which is why it will be ex-
tensively quoted.

   Deep in  a remote  rural stretch of Bosnia, war-crimes inve-
   stigators have found a tangle of buried bodies that they say
   is the  remains of  some of  the 7,500  Muslim men that were
   hidden to  try to  thwart the  prosecution of  Bosnian  Serb
   leaders for genocide.  (...)

   Exhumations in  1996 recovered  460 bodies, but 7,500 others
   were still  missing from the town of Srebrenica. Finding the
   others has  been the  goal of  war-crimes investigators  for
   more than two years.

   (...) The  discovery Tuesday  - and  the thousands of bodies
   that investigators  expect to find nearby - will bolster the
   cases against  2 Bosnian  Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and
   General Ratko  Mladic, the investigators say. Both have been
   indicted for genocide by the tribunal in the Hague.

   Investigators for the tribunal spoke Tuesday on condition of

   Satellites that  can locate  bodies decomposing underground,
   according to  foreign military  officers  working  with  the
   tribunal, aided  the search.  Witnesses to the reburial also
   offered testimony, tribunal officials said.

   The first  remains were  uncovered Tuesday morning. Investi-
   gators unfurled  a thin  silvery sheet to protect their find
   from the  sun. Next to it, small orange flags had been stuck
   in the  ground to  mark pieces  of evidence  such as bits of
   clothing or shell casings.

   Tuesday evening,  according to  a tribunal official, a layer
   of tangled bodies across an ares of 200 ft² (18 m²) had been
   exposed. The  bones were  so intertwined, the official said,
   that it was not possible to exhume any of them Tuesday.

   Proving that  the soil  around the bodies came from the ori-
   ginal mass  graves, or  that shell  casings found here match
   those found  at execution  sites, will establish the connec-
   tion they are looking for, investigators said.

   When the  original sites  were inspected in 1996, investiga-
   tors suspected  most of  the bodies  had been  moved. Doubts
   were cast  on American  military's  satellite  surveillance,
   with some  investigators charging  at the time that slipshod
   monitoring had  allowed Bosnian Serb authorities to move the
   bodies undetected.

   Now, however,  tribunal officials  say the bodies were moved
   in October  1995, before the pinpoint satellite surveillance
   was requested  by the tribunal. Once the original sites were
   discovered to  have been  tampered with,  American satellite
   photographs of  the region  were reviewed  and were found to
   show trucks  and earth-moving  equipment at the original bu-
   rial sites, according to tribunal officials. 1)

Anonymous investigators  say that the find "will bolster the cases
against [the] 2 Bosnian Serb leaders". The question should be rai-
sed: on  what basis  did the  tribunal make its charges of no less
than »genocide«,  if they  now have  to frantically  run around to
scrape up  enough bodies  to make  their indictment  plausible? If
they now  have to  try to "prov[e] that the soil around the bodies
came from  the original  mass graves," does it mean that what they
had considered  to be "the original mass graves" were either empty
or with  too few  bodies to justify the indictments? Were Karadzic
and Mladic  charged according  to the principle: "Indict now. Look
for evidence  of a  crime later"?  "Charge the Serbs! If you don't
know what  for, they do" seems to be the modus operandi in the Ha-

But it  was this  widely publicized "genocide" indictment that has
caused irreparable  damage to  the political and social constella-
tion in  this region of Europe, creating also a new set of politi-
cal factors in the world. Some of them are:

   the discrediting  of the  United Nations  for having supposedly
   allowed a  "genocide" to take place on territory under its aut-

   promoting NATO as the new "peace keeping" force;

   making great strides to create public acceptance for inquisito-
   rial, McCarthyist  standards both in "justice" and "journalism"
   on both national and international levels;

   the definition  of a  new "moral"  standard  based  on  "human"
   rights, determined  by membership in particular "ethnic" groups
   with rights  to be respected and all others without rights wor-
   thy of respect;

   growing international  acceptance of  the concept  of a  people
   being classified per se as "evil".

This has  all been made possible through a massive propaganda cam-
paign colporteuring  a -  yet to  be proven - "genocide," as if it
were a  certitude. Politicians  have justified and based momentous
decisions upon  the supposition that the massacre is fact, decisi-
ons determining  the welfare  of the  peoples of  this region  and

The media  bases each  succeeding generation  of falsification  on
preceding generations  of unproven  factors. Both are so often re-
peated as  a certainty,  that the public does not even demand sub-
stantiating evidence.

O'Conner writes  that "7,500  Muslim men  were hidden  to  try  to
thwart the  prosecution of  Bosnian Serb  leaders  for  genocide."
Their "bodies  were moved in October 1995, before the pinpoint sa-
tellite surveillance  was requested  by the  tribunal". These  and
other allegations  are in gross contradiction to other information
published in the press.

1) The Numbers game:
First of  all, the  number 8,000  most often and most consistently
given in the press is itself the first falsification. The prosecu-
tion has  never proven that 8,000 Muslims were killed. It is indi-
cative to note how the number 8,000 came into circulation.

The International  Committee of  the Red  Cross published  a press
statement Sept. 13, 1995 in which it was stated:

   "The ICRC's  head of  operations for Western Europe, An-
   gelo Gnaedinger,  visited Pale  and Belgrade from 2 to 7
   September to  obtain information  from the  Bosnian Serb
   authorities about the 3,000 persons from Srebrenica whom
   witnesses say  were arrested by Bosnian Serb forces. The
   ICRC has  asked for  access as  soon as  possible to all
   those arrested  (so far  it has  been able to visit only
   about 200 detainees), and for details of any deaths. The
   ICRC  has   also   approached   the   Bosnia-Herzegovina
   authorities   seeking    information   on   some   5,000
   individuals who  fled Srebrenica,  some of  whom reached
   central Bosnia."2)

Sept. 15, 1995 in the New York Times these numbers were juggled to

   About 8,000  Muslims are  missing from  Srebrenica,  the
   first of  two  United  Nations-designated  'safe  areas'
   overrun by  Bosnian Serb  troops in  July, the Red Cross
   said today.  (...) Among  the missing were 3,000, mostly
   men, who were seen being arrested by Serbs.    After the
   collapse of  Srebrenica, the  Red Cross collected 10,000
   names  of   missing  people,   said  Jessica   Barry,  a
   spokeswoman. In  addition to those arrested, about 5,000
   'have simply disappeared,' she said.3)

Aside from  simply adding the 3,000 Muslim men found still in Sre-
brenica (that  the Serbs  then took  as prisoners  of war) and the
5,000 Muslim men, (reported by the International Red Cross to have
left Srebrenica  before the arrival of Bosnian Serb forces) to in-
flate the  figures - and therefore the gravity of the accusation -
they make  no mention  of the  fact that  by mid-September  1995 a
sizable portion  of the  group of 5,000 had already reached Muslim
territory and  safety. The  fact that the Red Cross was asking the
Bosnia-Herzegovina authorities for information about the number of
the 5,000 (the original figure) - "some of whom [had already] rea-
ched central  Bosnia" -  has completely disappeared from the news.
The entire  5,000 are  still today - 3 years later - being counted
as "missing".

The Red  Cross report  was lacking  the objectivity that one would
hope for from a non-partisan organization. Its very off-hand "some
of whom  reached central  Bosnia" gives  the impression  of only a
handful could  be accounted  for by  mid-September. But  again the
press gave another picture:

   "Some 3,000 to 4,000 Bosnian Muslims who were considered
   by  UN  officials  to  be  missing  after  the  fall  of
   Srebrenica have  made their  way through  enemy lines to
   Bosnian government territory.  The group, which included
   wounded refugees, sneaked past Serb lines under fire and
   crossed some 30 miles through forests to safety." 4)

O'Connor's NY Times colleague Chris Hedges published this informa-
tion in  the journal  within a  week of the takeover of Srebrenica
(July 18,  1995). Similar  news appeared  in other journals at the
time. August 2, 1995 the Times of London published the following:

   »Thousands of the "missing" Bosnian Muslim soldiers from
   Srebrenica who  have been  at the  centre of  reports of
   possible mass  executions by  the Serbs, are believed to
   be safe to the northeast of Tuzla.

   Monitoring the  safe escape of Muslim soldiers and civi-
   lians from  the captured enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa
   has proved  a nightmare  for the  United Nations and the
   International Committee  of the Red Cross. For the first
   time yesterday, however, the Red Cross in Geneva said it
   had heard  from sources  in  Bosnia  that  up  to  2,000
   Bosnian Government  troops were  in  an  area  north  of

   They had  made their  way there from Srebrenica "without
   their families being informed", a spokesman said, adding
   that it  had not  been possible  to verify  the  reports
   because the  Bosnian Government refused to allow the Red
   Cross into the area.5)«

According to  the Washington  Post, "The  men set  off at  dawn on
Tuesday, July  11, in  two columns  that stretched  back seven  or
eight miles."6)  Even if the Red Cross did not know that they left
Srebrenica in  2 columns, they at least knew that 2,000 were safe.
And UN  officials knew of the 3, - 4,000 that had arrived earlier.
Yet the  communique given  in September  failed to report that the
5,000 that  "simply disappeared." simply disappeared back into the
ranks of the Bosnian military.

The Red  Cross must  have been aware that a "Big Lie" campaign was
launched around the issue of Srebrenica. By withholding and under-
stating important  information, the  Red Cross  was, in  effect, a
party to the conflict. It is unlikely that correspondents, such as
Mike O'Connor,  and their  editors are  unaware of  the fallacious
content of  the reports they publish. The pattern of conformity in
this disinformation campaign is, to say the least, astonishing.

A little  more than a week after Srebrenica, Zepa, a second Moslem
enclave (and  UN Safe  Area) was  taken by  Bosnian  Serb  forces.
Hundreds of  the "missing" soldiers from Srebrenica were among the
defenders of  Zepa in  the last  days of fighting. As the New York
Times recounts:

   "The wounded  troops were left behind, and when the Bos-
   nian Serbs overran the town on Tuesday, the wounded were
   taken to Sarajevo for treatment at Kosevo Hospital. Many
   of them  had begun their journey in Srebrenica, and fled
   into the hills when that 'safe area' fell to the Bosnian
   Serbs on  July 11.  These men  did not make it to Tuzla,
   where most  of the  refugees ended  up, but  became  the
   defenders of  Zepa instead.  'Some 350  of us managed to
   fight our  way out of Srebrenica and make it into Zepa,'
   said Sadik  Ahmetovic, one  of 151  people evacuated  to
   Sarajevo for  treatment today.  (...) They said they had
   not been mistreated by their Serb captors.7)"

(The Muslim  defenders of  Zepa left  their wounded behind as they
ran into  the hills.  It is  also well known that the 5,000 Muslim
soldiers, who  left Srebrenica  before Serbian  troops took  over,
left their  women and  children behind.  Obviously the Muslim sol-
diers must  not have  been too worried about their women, children
and wounded comrades falling into the hands of their Serbian coun-
trymen. The  Serbian forces,  generally portrayed as comparable to
Nazis, had  the wounded  members of the Muslim forces evacuated to
their Muslim hospital.)

The London  Times article, quoted above mentions that 2000 Srebre-
nica soldiers  made their way to the north of Tuzla "without their
families being informed". The question is, when, if ever, were the
families informed. Other than the few articles that took notice of
their resurrection  from the  dead, the  public at large was never
informed that they, in fact were never massacred. On the contrary.

To maintain the myth of a gigantic massacre, is not only necessary
to create  the illusion  of having proof that it did happen - thus
the frantic  searches for  mass graves  - but also to suppress the
proof that  it did  not take place - which means prohibit that too
many of the prisoners of war return "from the dead."

The figure of 3,000, given by the Red Cross, listed as having been
arrested by Bosnian Serb forces, which is counted into the media's
8,000 "massacred",  should also be taken with a grain of salt. One
learns -  again through isolated articles - that they too not only
were not  massacred, but  that the  Red Cross, the United Nations,
and a host of "western" governments around the world all were well
aware of this fact.

January 17,  1996, the  Manchester "Guardian" published an article
concerning one  group of  the former  Muslim prisoners of war from
Srebrenica and  Zepa, who, liberated from the prison camp at Slji-
vovica - in Serbia, were flown directly abroad to Dublin:

   "Hundreds of  Bosnian Muslim  prisoners are  still being
   held at  2 secret  camps within  neighboring Serbia, ac-
   cording to  a group of men evacuated by the Red Cross to
   a Dublin hospital from one camp - at Sljivovica. (...) A
   group of  24  men  was  flown  to  Ireland  just  before
   Christmas (...). But some 800 others remain incarcerated
   in Sljivovica  and at  another camp  near Mitrovo Polje,
   just three  days before  the agreed date for the release
   of all  detainees under  the Dayton  peace agreement  on
   Bosnia  (...).  The  Red  Cross  in  Belgrade  has  been
   negotiating for  several weeks  to have the men released
   and given  sanctuary in  third countries.  A spokeswoman
   said most were bound for the United States or Australia,
   with others  due to  be sent  to Italy, Belgium, Sweden,
   France and  Ireland. (...)  Since late  August, the  Red
   Cross has  made fortnightly  visits  from  its  Belgrade
   field office.  (...) Teams  from the War Crimes Tribunal
   at The  Hague have  been in  Dublin to question and take
   evidence from the men."8)

Why would  war prisoners,  whose normal first wish would be to re-
unite with  their families  and restart their interrupted lives in
peace, be  rushed off  to Dublin,  with "papers  to remain in Ire-
land"? And  this at a time where most industrialized countries are
closing their  borders to  refugees! Were their families informed?
Could it be that they too - in a large enough group - could become
living proof of the fallacy of a huge Srebrenica "massacre" before
the 1996 fall elections?

   US decided  to accept  214 Bosniaks  who, after  the fall of
   Srebrenica and  Zepa, had been detained in Serbian camps and
   give them  refugee status. "It is horrible that those people
   besides being  captured during  the bloodshed  in Srebrenica
   had to  spend at  least another two months in Serbian deten-
   tion camps under dreadful conditions", said State Department
   spokesman N.  Burns. Burns  emphasized that at least 800 men
   out of 80 000 people who have been expelled from their homes
   after the  fall of  Srebrenica and  Zepa had  been taken  to

This is  how the  US government  justified their  aid in  secretly
skirting the men out of the country. What is known is that neither
the Red  Cross (which  has been  visiting the  prisoners since Au-
gust), the  Tribunal, (in  its frantic search for evidence for the
"genocide" in  Srebrenica and  to have  someone arrest the Bosnian
Serb leaders)  nor the American government have made mention since
August 95  of these  men being  in custody, as war prisoners. Why?
Are they  trying to  conceal evidence exonerating the Bosnian Ser-
bian forces of the charge of "genocide" in connection with alleged
mass executions?

2) The vanishing corpses:
Like the  juggling of  the numbers  of "missing" and their wherea-
bouts, excuses had to be found for the lack of corpses.

In August  1995, during a Security Council meeting, the US delega-
tion to  the United  Nations accused the leadership of the Bosnian
Serbs of having committed wide-scale atrocities against Muslim ci-
vilians. With what amounts to a satellite photo "peep show," Made-
leine Albright had an excuse already prepared for the lack of evi-
dence to  support her  charges. The  NY Times in referring back to
that session of the UN Security Council wrote:

   "On Aug.  10, [1995] the chief United States delegate to
   the United  Nations, Madeleine  K. Albright,  showed se-
   lected photos  of the  two sites  to a closed session of
   the United  Nations Security Council. She then said, 'We
   will keep  watching to  see if  the Bosnian Serbs try to
   erase the evidence of what they have done.'"10)

One of the earlier versions was the vanishing corpses through a
corrosive agent. In the same article, the NY Times adds:

   "American officials said today that they suspect Bosnian
   Serb soldiers  may have  tried to  destroy evidence that
   they killed thousands of Muslim men seized in and around
   the town  of Srebrenica in July. The Serbs are suspected
   of  pouring   corrosive  chemicals  on  the  bodies  and
   scattering corpses  that had been buried in mass graves,
   the officials  said. The suspicions first arose in early
   August,  after   Central  Intelligence   Agency  experts
   analyzed  pictures   of  the   area  taken  in  July  by
   reconnaissance satellites and U-2 planes."11)

With the absence of traces of a corrosive substance, when it comes
time to  dig up  the "evidence,"  the entire  legend  falls  flat.
Another explanation had to be found: the bodies were simply dug up
and moved someplace else. This excuse has its advantages: With the
needle in  the haystack  search for  "mass graves,"  the  tribunal
could keep the public at bay for quite a while. But also disadvan-
tages: How  do you  remove thousands of buried, decomposing bodies
without being  seen by  the "watchful eye" of Madeleine Albright's
satellites? Undismayed  by this  factual detail,  the Tribunal and
media continue their course.

In Nov. 1995 the Dutch Minister of Defense, Joris Voorhove, ac-
cused the  Serbs of  "trying hastily to destroy the evidence of
the massacre  they  committed  against  thousands  of  Bosniaks
around  Srebrenica."  Citing  "intelligence  services"  as  his
source, he  claimed in  a TV  interview, that "these days Serbs
have been exhuming the corpses from the mass graves in order to
remove the evidence of their crimes".12)

Approaching the  day of  reckoning and desperate for more concrete
evidence of  the massacre, Richard Goldstone, the tribunal's chief
prosecutor, wrote  a letter to the US Embassy in the Hague in Nov.
95, to  pressure the  US government  to come forward with the evi-
dence it  evidently had  promised. The  letter was  quoted in  the
Washington Post:

   "Judge [Goldstone]  called the  'quality and  timeliness' of
   intelligence provided  by the United States 'disappointing.'
   He complained about the failure to hand over spy photos that
   he said  could help  the United  Nations-sponsored  tribunal
   identify  mass  graves  that  appeared  after  the  fall  of
   Srebrenica in  July. The  judge also complained that much of
   the information  provided by  the United  States so  far was
   based on 'open-source material' not relevant to the original
   requests.  He   submitted  an  additional  25  questions  to
   Washington, including  a request  for  information  about  a
   transcript of  a conversation between General Mladic and Yu-
   goslav Army  commanders who  report  directly  to  President
   Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia."13)

[The reference  to "open-source  material", that the US government
furnished the  tribunal as  "evidence", simply  means that the CIA
uses media reports, some of which are obviously its own propaganda

The Clinton Administration made public 3 of the 8 photos shown the
Security  Council.   One  of  these  3  showed  "disturbed  soil".
"According to  one American official who has seen the photographs,
one shows hundreds and perhaps thousands of Muslim men and boys in
a field  near a  soccer stadium about 5 miles north of Srebrenica.
Another photo  taken several  days later  shows a  large  area  of
freshly dug  earth, consistent  with the  appearance of known mass
graves, near the stadium, which is empty.14)"

One of  the three  photos reproduced  in several newspapers showed
two buildings, a main and subordinate road. Two light colored pat-
ches (indicated  with arrows)  in the  middle of  what could  be a
field with  a parallel  double-lined path  (tire tracks?)  leading
from the main road to each of the light areas. The photo is entit-
led: "Possible  Mass Graves;  Kasaba/Konjevic Polje  Area, Bosnia;
unclassified Jul. 95". In the lower left corner the explanation of
the arrows: "Recently disturbed earth."

As a NY Times journalist complained, the US government refused "to
let reporters  see the satellite photographs (...) which were said
to include  pictures of people crowded into a soccer field. Ameri-
can officials said the satellite photographs were classified, alt-
hough Ms.  Albright showed them to the other 14 members of the Se-
curity Council."15)  This striptease sort of procedure, in itself,
should provoke  questions concerning the credibility of these pho-
tos portraying what we are told that they are supposed to show.

*  Where are  other more  conclusive photos  showing people in the
   process of  being shot,  dead bodies  being removed,  open pits
   being - or already - filled with bodies or being covered, ....?

*  How closely  were diplomats of the Security Council able to ex-
   amine (for  authenticity, manipulation, falsification) the pho-
   tos? Were  they forced  to appraise the photos quickly, or were
   they allowed to keep copies of the photos?

*  Why are  photos purported  to be  the most  important  -  those
   showing "Muslim  men and  boys," -  hidden from  the public? Do
   they actually  show what  the US administration claim that they

*  How does  the US  secret service discern the difference between
   "hundreds and  perhaps thousands  of Muslim  men and boys" from
   the same number of Serb or Croatian males - and that from outer
   space? The  Security Council  members apparently  saw something
   different on  these photos: A NY Times journalist following the
   presentation to  the Security Council reports: "The photographs
   showed a  stretch of  fields at  Novo Kasaba,  near Srebrenica,
   where Bosnian  Muslim families  were  apparently  herded  toge-
   ther."16) A  mere detail?  Which is the true story? The version
   "Muslim men and boys" given by the CIA official the day before?
   Or the  one of  "Bosnian Muslim families" the day after members
   of the  Security Council viewed the pictures? Had they realized
   that they  were viewing  mainly women  and  children,  (perhaps
   being "herded  together" to  prepare to  be  taken  by  bus  to
   Tuzla)? Is  this not a first indication that perhaps the satel-
   lite photos  will not  stand up  under  independent  appraisal?
   Could this  embarrassing discrepancy be the main reason why the
   satellite photos were made inaccessible to the public?

*  Where is  the original  photo taken  by the reconnaissance air-
   craft? Why  was the  original photo  not shown  to the Security
   Council? The  labeling that  accompanied the  published  photo:
   "Possible Mass  Graves" was  added after  the photo  was taken,
   meaning that  the built-in  time and geographical settings from
   reconnaissance cameras,  were edited out of the picture and ar-
   rows and  other written interpretations of what one is supposed
   to see  edited onto the photo. Left to make ones' own interpre-
   tations the  same photo could have been interpreted to show so-
   mething having  nothing to  do with warfare in the Balkans. How
   does one  know that  the photo was taken near Srebrenica, or at
   the time  that it  is claimed  to have  been taken - and not at
   some other time in some other part of the world?

*  Could it  be that  the US  government knows  that the origin of
   this "disturbed  soil" has  nothing to  do with  "Mass Graves"?
   Could this  be the  reason why the photo is entitled: "Possible
   Mass Graves"? Would this not also explain why the State Depart-
   ment and CIA found it necessary to launch rumors that Serbs had
   allegedly removed the thousands of bodies that were supposed to
   have been  buried under  this "disturbed soil" - albeit without
   any satellite photos to back up this new rumor?

*  The assumption  that several days after having seen a full soc-
   cer field,  an empty one would signify that those formerly seen
   there had  been executed,  is so  farfetched, that  it could be
   dismissed as  crazy. How  many soccer  stadiums  remain  filled
   overnight, or  days at  a time?  If those seen had in fact been
   Muslims captured,  why would the first assumption not have been
   that they  had been  taken to a prisoner of war camp? This type
   of explanation  says more  about the  ethnic prejudices  of the
   author than it does about those of Bosnian Serb armed forces.

In the  Bible, faith  is defined as "the substance of things hoped
for, the  evidence of  things not  seen". This seems a very appro-
priate description  of the Tribunal's handling of the US satellite
and U-2  "evidence". It  was on the basis of these photos that the
Security Council  and tribunal  accused the  Serbian leadership of
having committed  a massacre.  The Tribunal's  indictments against
Karadzic and  Mladic were  primarily based on faith in the journa-
lists' faith  in the  Security Council's  faith in the CIA and its
spy photos.  Neither the  press nor the tribunal were given access
to all  of the  photos, yet both take it for granted that the Bos-
nian leaders are "guilty as charged."

But once the indictment handed down, the Bosnian Serb leaders shut
out of  negotiations and the Serbian President Milosevic under ef-
fective threat  (that he  too could suffer the fate of his Bosnian
Serb Brethren),  the Clinton Administration showed little interest
in helping "further the cause of justice".

The White  House spokesman, Michael D. McCurry, and other US offi-
cials responded to Goldstone's complaints by saying:

   "There are  certain types  of intelligence  information that
   our Government  cannot share  with the  international commu-
   nity." The  NY Times  article continues:  "Mr. McCurry cited
   'national security  reasons' as the reason the United States
   would withhold  some evidence, and criticized the complaints
   by   the    prosecutor,   Judge    Richard   Goldstone,   as
   'unfortunate.' (...) In defending their level of cooperation
   with the  tribunal, Administration  officials insisted  that
   Judge Goldstone  is getting most of his data from the United
   States and  there would be no war crimes tribunal if not for
   the United States."17)

With this  statement these  "administration  officials"  confirmed
what Serbs  and independent  observers have suspected from the be-
ginning: that  the tribunal  is simply being manipulated by the US
to serve its own foreign policy interests, and that its procedures
have really  as little  to do  with "rule of law" standards as its
goals, with doing "justice".

It has  been reported that in the New York central headquarters of
the UN,  all files  relevant to  Srebrenica have  been  classified
"secret" for the next 30 - 50 years and are not even available for
the tribunal.  This decision was taken at the demand of the perma-
nent members  of the  Security Council,  the USA, France and Great
Britain, in  reference to  their protection  of the secrecy of go-
vernment documents.18)

With what  right does  the US classify evidence, that it claims to
have, concerning  what is  often referred to as "the worst atroci-
ties committed in Europe since WW-II"? One could understand the US
government withholding  evidence of  war crimes  committed  by  US
troops. But  what justification does the US have for classifying a
"national security  secret," crimes  committed by those designated
as "enemy  forces"? Is the US administration hiding the proof of a
crime or proof that it has no proof of a crime? Most disturbing of
all, is that hardly anyone raises this question.

As in  November, the  snow and icy winter began to set in, chances
of exhuming  graves were  slim. Come  January, and the approaching
thaw, the  Tribunal and  their  chief  prosecutor,  at  the  time,
Richard Goldstone,  began to  get nervous.  The US  government was
still not forthcoming with more conclusive evidence of a massacre.
At one  point, Goldstone  threatened "the exhumation of the graves
may become  necessary in  order to  determine the  identity of the
corpses and  the time  and cause of death and to obtain the neces-
sary evidence."19)  What Goldstone  formulated here  as  a  threat
should have  been -  if the  tribunal were a normal court of law -
the most  logical first step for determining that a crime had been
committed, a prerequisite for an indictment.

Confronted with  the inevitability  of  the  exhumation,  American
journalists began to prepare public opinion for the disappointment
that would  soon come  when the  graves turn  up empty. Washington
Post journalist, John Pomfret, visited a site that "according to a
Western investigator, could be 2 of several mass graves in the re-
gion believed to hold corpses of some of the estimated 12,000 Mus-
lim fighters".  Pomfret observes  that: "while  dirt obviously had
been moved recently around the sites in Glogova, if Serbian gunmen
had attempted  to tamper with it or destroy evidence, they did not
do a thorough job. Bones were readily visible on the clay dirt, as
were bandages, shoes and other things that obviously once belonged
to the men buried below."20) Mr. Pomfret, does not take the tampe-
ring too  seriously, since  he leaves  the efforts of the would-be
tamperers at the level of "attempting to" and admits that they did
it unseriously.  Could it have been that it was supposed to appear
as though  someone had "attempted" to tamper. Since the region was
being watched  by American IFOR forces, maybe Mr. Pomfret has also
information about  whether the  would be tamperers were Americans.
Besides his  inflationary reporting  - pulling  the sum of "12,000
Muslim fighters"  out of  thin air - it would seem that along with
his "Western  investigator," Mr.  Pomfret must  also have  a  very
"special" source  of information  concerning  the  would-have-been
tamperers: How  else would he know, that they were carrying guns -
"gunmen" -  instead of  shovels? Little  wonder they  did not do a
good job. Ever try to dig a hole with a rifle?

Also to  be noted, and not just for both Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Pom-
fret, many  journalists have  a privileged source: their anonymous
"investigators", another name for intelligence agent.

It would  be interesting to learn with what means the Serbian for-
ces supposedly  disposed of  7,500  decomposing  bodies.  Such  an
enterprise would not only take a lot of time and effort, but would
also require  quite a  large space.  How is  this supposed to have
been accomplished  without having  been seen by the hi-tech satel-
lite and U-2 surveillance?

Mr. O'Connor  also affirms  that the  US is using "satellites that
can locate  bodies decomposing  underground". The  question should
arise: Why  has it  taken them  3 years to locate the corpses that
they claim to be in the area since July '95? And they still do not
have them.

(It should  not be  forgotten that  simply the  fact of  finding a
"mass grave" is not necessarily proof of a mass execution. In war-
time the  battlefield victims of the opposing side may be disposed
of in  this way, until a transfer of the remains could be negotia-
ted with  the other  side, to avoid the health problems that their
decomposition on the surface could cause, particularly in summer.)

The work  of the  Hague Tribunal  has been  highly praised  as  an
"example" of  what is  needed on a more general basis as an answer
to "war crimes" and "genocide". Neither the tribunal nor the press
has produced  substantial evidence  1) that  a genocide  was  ever
planned or  attempted by the Bosnian Serb leadership and 2) that a
large scale  massacre -  thousands of Muslims - ever took place in
the aftermath  of the  Bosnian Serbian takeover of Srebrenica. And
this after  nearly 3  years of  promises to bring proof to support
indictments. It is as adventurous to speak of a "genocide" without
corpses as it is of a "murder" without a victim.

To be  sure, if  this becomes  the international legal norm of ju-
risprudence, no  national legal system - no matter how good it is,
will withstand  the pressure  of such  a totalitarian judicial sy-
stem. This  sort of procedure if allowed to set in on the interna-
tional level  will determine also national judicial standards. Hu-
manity will  find itself  being juridically  set back to the stan-
dards of the era of the inquisition.


Sidebar: The Eyewitness, Erdemovic

Not anxious to exhume the suspected graves, and lacking other material proof of mass executions, the tribunal turned once again to its mainstay: "Eyewitness'" testimony as "evidence". This is the most unreliable form of evidence, because it is the easiest to be manipulated and tailored to fit the desired circumstances. One need only affirm having been a witness to something. As long as the accused cannot prove the contrary - and the tribunal will not search for corroborating evidence to support the allegations, the defendent will be convicted. This turns the basic rule of "proof of a crime being with the prosecution" on its head.

When the "eyewitness" Drazen Erdemovic, came forward in March 96, asking to go the the Hague, this caused a great sensation of enthusiasm in the Hague. Erdemovic described himself, in a confession to the French daily, "Le Figaro", as a "soldier in the Bosnian Serb Army." He said that he had participated in mass executions of Muslim civilians from Srebrenica, describing in details the massacres of 1200 people on one field of a farm in Pilice, near Janja, on the road Bjeljina- Zvornik. According to him the executioners "used 7,62mm bullets."1)

With such detailed information, one would think that the Tribunal would finally have what it would need to be able to locate and secure the necessary evidence to bring concrete charges against those who participated. They would have to simply exhume the bodies and in a forensic examination verify if they had been killed with 7,62mm bullets. That is of course, if the tribunal wanted to learn if Erdemovic was a reliable witness or giving false information out of some personal or political motivation.

In 1992, in his native Tuzla, Erdemovic "first joined HVO (The paramilitary Croatian Council of Defence), then he went over to the Serbian side. In Serbia came in contact with ABC TV- station,2) and (...) offered his story, and his testimony to Tribunal in The Hague.3)" The International Herald Tribune adds: "Mr. Erdemovic, who (...) had been an ordinary soldier, said that after a falling out with his commander in Bosnia he decided to move to Serbia and tell his story, apparently in revenge."4)

Is this a reliable witness? Is is plausible that an ex-HVO para- military Croatian nationalist would have joined - would have even been accepted in - the Bosnian Serb army? It has also been reported - and denied - that chief prosecutor Richard Goldstone had offered Erdemovic benefit of the "state's witness" regulation, freedom from prosecution for himself and was guaranteed a new life abroad for his valuable testimony.5)

Erdemovic came to the Hague as a witness and became himself, the defendent charged with crimes against humanity, for his role in the executions that he described.

In an article in "The Nation", Diana Johnstone described the conviction as being:

"heralded as a great "first" in establishment of global justice. [The Erdemovic] case is considered of great importance to the Tribunal since his confession of taking part in executing over a thousand Muslims after the Serb capture of Srebrenica is considered prime evidence in the Tribunal's "main event", the future trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladic. 6)

She also points out the catch:

However, inasmuch as he confessed to his crimes, there was no formal trial and no presentation of material evidence to corroborate his story. In any case, since he had turned "state's evidence", there would have been no rigorous cross-examination from either a contented prosecution or a complaisant defense regarding the discrepancy between the number of Muslims he testified having helped execute at a farm near Pilica -- 1,200 -- and the number of bodies actually found there by the Tribunal's forensic team: about 150 to 200.7)

He was given an original ten year sentence. Upon appeal, he changed his plea from "guilty" to a crime against Humanity, to "guilty" to a war crime. Citing among other things, "honest disposition; this is supported by his confession and consistent admission of guilt"8) his change of plea was accepted and his sentence was reduced from 10 to 5 years. (Does the "honest disposition" cited by the tribunal, would mean that those who defend their innocence would be particularly punished, particularly when the tribunal makes no effort of verifying the evidence?)

1) O'Connor, Mike; Mass Graves in Bosnia Bolster War-Crimes Cases; IHT (NYT-Services), 14.5.98

2) Former Yugoslavia: Srebrenica: help for families still awaiting news; ICRC News 37

3) AP; Conflict in the Balkans; 8,000 Muslims Missing; New York Times; Sep 15, 1995; p: 8

4) Chris Hedges; Conflict in the Balkans: In Bosnia; Muslim Refugees Slip Across Serb Lines; New York Times; Jul 18, 1995 p: 7

5) Evans, Michael and Kallenbach, Michael; Missing' enclave troops found; The Times; 02 August 1995 p: 9

6) Dobbs, Michael/ Spolar, Christine; 12,000 Muslims Massacred In July Srebrenica Exodus; Washington Post, October 27, 1995

7) Hedges, Chris; Bosnia Troops Cite Gassings At Zepa; New York Times, Jul 27, 1995

8) Vulliamy, Ed; Bosnia: The secret War - Serbs 'run secret camps': Men freed from clandestine detention tell Ed Vulliamy of random beatings and 'mobile torture machines'; Guardian, 17.1.96

9) S.K., Another Two Mass Graves - Discovered, Press TWRA, Jan 19,1996

10)Weiner, Tim; U.S. Says Serbs May Have Tried To Destroy Massacre Evidence; NY Times, Oct. 30, 1995


12)Serbs Try To Remove Evidence Of Massacre In Srebrenica, TWRA - Daily Bulletin, Nov 18, 1995

13)Sciolino, Elaine; US Says It Is Withholding Data From War Crimes Panel; NY Times, 8.11.95 (pg. 10)


15)Op cit: Crossette, Barbara; U.S. Seeks to Prove (...) The New York Times; 11.8.95


17)op. cit. Sciolino, Elaine; US Says (...)

18)Zumach, Andreas; UN-Tribunal kritisiert französische "Totalblockade": Paris verbietet Zeugenvernehmung Janviers und anderer französischer Offiziere in Den Haag; Tageszeitung (Berlin), 17.12.97

19)god/cha, UN-Tribunal will Massengräber in Bosnien öffnen lassen; Goldstone: Exhumierung notwendig zur Beweissicherung, Agence France Presse (Deutschland - AFD) 19.01.1996 - 17:54

20)John Pomfret, Bosnia Killing Fields Reveal A Grisly Demise, Mass Graves near Srebrenica, IHT / WPS, 20.1.96


1) Vanessa Vasic-Janekovic, A Man Who Knows Too Much (Covjek koji zna previse), quoted in the ARZIN index-60, 15.3.96

2) Why didn't ABC-TV take this "scoop" of a lifetime? The credit for breaking this story is "Le Figaro". This sounds like a common CIA "black propaganda" method: plant a false story in a reputable foreign paper to have the American press pick it up as a reprint. This hides the American hand at the origin of the story. The French press, at the time, was not as monolithically anti-Serb, as the German or American media.

3) ibid

4) Jane Perlez, Milosevic is expected to Aid in a War crimes Case; 2 Bosnian Serbs may face court, IHT, 14.3.96

5) cd sg Bosnien/UN/Jugoslawien; Tribunal verlangt in Belgrad Auslieferung von Srebrenica-Zeugen, dpa 12.03.1996 - 12:57

6) Johnstone, Diana; Selective Justice in The Hague: The War Crimes Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia is a Mockery of Evidentiary Rule; The Nation, 22.9.97

7) Ibid

8) Drazan Erdemovic sentenced to 5 Years imprisonment; Press Communiqué of the ICTY; http://www.un.org/icty/pressreal/p299-e.htm


Five years on and the lies continue
And they kept digging... with no result. Jared Israel: "Why is Holbrooke reopening Srebrenica? Because he wants to hide the nightmare created by the Clinton administration in Kosovo."

Hiding massacre of the Serbs
While relentless digging continued in Srebrenica, the Western racists did their best to hide the true massacre, the one of Serbs in small Bosnian town of Mrkonjic Grad. After only 12 days of digging the Serbs found 181 body of slaughtered Mrkonjic Grad Serbs. They were able to identify 123 people, young and old, right away. The Westerners were called to withness the identification procedures. They even filmed the event, but then went back to Srebrenica and "forgot" to even mention anything in written media.


 [ The old number game ]


 [ Srebrenica analysis ]
 [ The Hague "justice" ]
 [ Media wars against Serbian people ]
 [ Muslim proxies of Bosnia ]

  Where am I? PATH:

  Book of facts

History of the Balkans

Big powers and civil wars in Yugoslavia
(How was Yugoslavia dismantled and why.)

Proxies at work
(Muslims, Croats and Albanians alike were only proxies of the big powers)

The Aftermath

The truth belongs to us all.

Feel free to download, copy and redistribute.

Last revised: October 10, 1999