S/1994/674 - 27 May 1994 (continued)
The first phase involved the conflict in Slovenia. The conflict began when that Republic declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia on 25 June 1991. That conflict involved the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), Slovenia Territorial Defence Forces - Slovenian troops who left JNA to join the newly created Slovenian Army - and local Slovenian Police. This phase lasted for only a few weeks, in June and July 1991.
The second phase of the conflict, involving Croatia, started before that Republic officially declared its independence on 25 July 1991. On one side, that conflict involved JNA, Serb militia in Krajina and in eastern and western Slavonia, special forces from Serbia (with the participation of Serb expatriates and mercenaries), local special forces, and Serb police and armed civilians from the same areas. On the other side, the newly formed Croatian Army consisted of Croatian troops who left JNA, the Croatian National Guard, local militia; special forces consisting of expatriate Croats and mercenaries, and local Croatian police and armed civilians. After November 1991, JNA formally withdrew from Croatia, but continued to support the newly formed, self-proclaimed ``Serb Republic of Krajina'' army. Meanwhile, the newly established Republic of Croatia had formed its army, the Croatian Army, which, along with Croatian special forces and others, continued the armed conflict in what became the United Nations protected areas (UNPAs) in Croatia.
The third phase of the conflict began in Bosnia and Herzegovina following its declaration of independence on 6 March It simultaneously involved fighting between Croatian and Bosnian Government forces, Bosnian Government and Serbian forces, and Croatian and Serbian forces. The Croatian Defence Council forces in the Bosnian and Herzegovina are supported by the Croatian Army, local Croatian police, volunteer civilians and ``special forces'' like the military wing of the Croatian Party of Rights (HOS) (named after the former Ustashis of the Second World War, who also fought against the Serbs in the Krajina area). Other Croatian armed civilian forces operate essentially in local areas. At first, the Bosnian Government and JNA opposed each other. This lasted from April to June 1992, during which time the JNA troops from Serbia and Montenegro ``officially'' withdrew from Bosnia and Herzegovina, leaving behind JNA Serbian troops from Bosnia and their equipment. They were supplemented by ``special forces'' from Serbia which consisted of expatriate volunteers and mercenaries, Bosnian-Serb militia and police, and Serb volunteers.
At the early stages of the conflict, most of the combatants, including those in the regular army, did not wear distinctive uniforms, emblems or insignias of rank. As a result, officers freely moved from army to militia and from one unit to another. To further complicate matters, at the early stages of the conflict between: (a) Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other Serb forces within Croatia, and (b) between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and other forces within Bosnia and Herzegovina (in May 1992, JNA forces from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia officially withdrew from Bosnia), the ``order of battle'' of almost all army and militia units was not clearly established. The chain of command was significantly blurred, even to insiders. Consequently, the organizations’ ``command and control'' structures were seriously eroded, which resulted in much confusion. The confusion was more pronounced in Bosnia among Serb combatants, but seems to have been purposely kept that way for essentially political reasons.
When each of the three Republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively declared their independence, *21 they did not have a separate army. Previously, the Yugoslavian People’s Army (JNA), also referred to as the Yugoslavian National Army, was a single unitary army for all members of the former Yugoslavia. The armies of the ``warring factions'' consisted mainly of military personnel and equipment of the former JNA.
Each of these republics had local territorial defence forces (TDF) *22 which were part of the total defence systems of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The republics also had local police forces consisting of personnel from their respective republics.
Upon the successive declarations of independence of these three republics, some of the military personnel of JNA (who had been located in each of these republics) left JNA and reconstituted themselves as part of the newly created national armies of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. *23 JNA ``officially'' withdrew from Croatia in November 1991 and from the Bosnia and Herzegovina between May and June 1992. Throughout this period, JNA was reorganized several times by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As of May 1992, JNA - now called the Yugoslav Army - consisted essentially of troops from the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro. These two Republics form the successor federal union to the former Yugoslavia.
In addition to the regular armies mentioned above, there
are three additional armies: the Bosnian-Serb Army, which operates
in Bosnia and Herzegovina; the Serbian Army of Croatia, which
operates in Croatia; and the Croatian Defence Council, which
operates primarily outside the border of the Republic of Croatia,
and mostly in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The first two were at one
time and may still be armed and supported by JNA (now the
Yugoslav Army) and the third may have been armed and supported by
the Croatian Army.
Some towns and villages formed paramilitary units, which are not to be confused with the special forces mentioned above. These local forces operate in the areas of their towns and villages. Occasionally, they also lend support to similar groups and other combatants in the same opstina (county) and neighbouring areas. Their command and control is local, and the chain of command difficult to establish, though characteristically these groups, like the special forces, have an identifiable leader. Frequently, the unit or group is called by the leader’s name. Otherwise, the unit or group uses a politically significant name or the name of their town, village or area. The leadership is local, mostly consisting of political figures. These units, particularly among Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croats in Krajina, have, like the special forces, committed many violations of international humanitarian law (see paras. 129 - 150). The police, augmented by ``volunteer'' armed civilians, also participate in military activities. These forces operate within a given municipality. They are nominally under the overall control of the Ministry of Interior. Furthermore, the respective ministries of interior also have national and regional police units, which usually operate outside the boundaries of local municipalities. The relationship between national, regional and local police is not always clear and varies in each country, and sometimes within the regions of each country. During the early stages of the conflicts in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the police, augmented by ``volunteer'' armed civilians, operated without apparent command and control from the army. Their leadership was local and included many political figures. These forces acted with almost complete autonomy in their respective areas. They also share responsibility with the special forces described above.
The situation consists of a multiplicity of combatant
forces (for example, regular armies, militias, special forces,
police and armed civilians) operating within different structures
or outside any structure. These forces sometimes operate under no
command and control. They may be without uniforms, emblems or
insignias. Frequently, these forces merge or combine in connection
with certain operations. Probably the only factor
common to all of these forces is their receipt of military
equipment, ammunition and supplies from their respective armies and
other governmental sources.
The Federal Criminal Code of the former Yugoslavia embodied
the international rules of armed conflict. JNA military personnel
were instructed accordingly. Thus, grave breaches of the Geneva
Conventions and other violations of international humanitarian law
are part of the applicable national laws of all warring factions.
``56. Based on the many reports describing the policy and practices conducted in the former Yugoslavia, `ethnic cleansing' has been carried out by means of murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property. Those practices constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention.
``57. The Commission is mindful of these considerations in the examination of reported allegations.''
Upon examination of reported information, specific studies and investigations, the Commission confirms its earlier view that ``ethnic cleansing'' is a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas. To a large extent, it is carried out in the name of misguided nationalism, historic grievances and a powerful driving sense of revenge. This purpose appears to be the occupation of territory to the exclusion of the purged group or groups. This policy and the practices of warring factions are described separately in the following paragraphs.
With respect to the practices by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, ``ethnic cleansing'' is commonly used as a term to describe a policy conducted in furtherance of political doctrines relating to ``Greater Serbia''. The policy is put into practice by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and their supporters in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The political doctrine consists of a complex mixture of historical claims, grievances and fears and nationalistic aspirations and expectations, as well as religious and psychological elements. *29 The doctrine is essentially based on ethnic and religious exclusivity and the dominance of Serbs over other groups in certain historically claimed areas. These views contrast with ethnic and religious pluralism. This doctrine breeds intolerance and suspicion of other ethnic and religious groups and is conducive to violence when it is politically manipulated, as has been the case.
It should be emphasized that this policy and the manner in which it is carried out is supported only by some Serbs. In addition, the Commission emphasizes that responsibility for criminal conduct must be determined on an individual basis. *30
The manner in which the policy of ``ethnic cleansing'' is carried out by Serbs in Bosnia is consistent throughout a certain geographic area represented by an arc ranging from northern Bosnia and covering areas in eastern and western Bosnia adjoining the Serb Krajina area in Croatia. *31 The practice of ``ethnic cleansing'' is carried out in strategic areas linking Serbia proper with Serb- inhabited areas in Bosnia and Croatia. This strategic factor is significantly relevant to understanding why the policy has been carried out in certain areas and not in others. *32
The coercive means used to remove the civilian population
from the above-mentioned strategic areas include: mass murder,
torture, rape and other forms of sexual assault; severe physical
injury to civilians;
mistreatment of civilian prisoners and prisoners of war; use of
civilians as human shields; destruction of personal, public and
cultural property; looting, theft and robbery of personal property;
forced expropriation of real property; forceful displacement of
civilian population; and attacks on hospitals, medical personnel
and locations marked with the Red Cross/Red Crescent emblem.
Other noteworthy practices are widespread destruction of
villages by systematically burning them to the ground and blowing
up all the houses and
structures in a given area. This includes cultural and religious
monuments and symbols. The purpose of this destruction is to
eradicate cultural, social and religious traces that identify the
ethnic and religious groups. In the cases where the practices
described above do not occur, these groups are forced to leave
under duress by reason of a well-founded fear for their personal
Two additional factors also indicate the existence of a policy of ``ethnic cleansing'': (a) the wholesale and surreptitious departure of the Serbian population living in certain areas, which are to be ``ethnically cleansed'', before the acts described above take place; *35 and (b) the practices reported occur under the supervision of a ``crisis committee'' (Krisni Stab), comprised of local political leaders, police and others, which made such decisions with the direct or indirect involvement and support of the Bosnian-Serb Army. *36
Special forces (see paras. 121 - 122) frequently carry out ``ethnic cleansing''. These forces clearly seem to be supported, equipped and supplied by the Governments they serve and are allowed to operate without control by the authorities in charge. Two particular groups of special forces that have committed the largest number of reported violations are Arkan’s Tigers and e elj’s White Eagles (see para. 121).
The study of the Prijedor district described in paragraphs 151 to 182 below, reveals the extent of the policy of ``ethnic cleansing'' and the manner in which it was systematically carried out together with the local and regional authorities. *37 The same patterns and practices described in the study on the district of Prijedor repeatedly occurred in many op tinas, such as Banja-Luka, Brko, Fo a and Zvornik, about which the Commission received significant information supporting the above conclusions. *38
Three additional observations are noteworthy:
There is sufficient evidence to conclude that the practices
of ``ethnic cleansing'' were not coincidental, sporadic or carried
out by disorganized groups or bands of civilians who could not be
controlled by the Bosnian-Serb leadership. Indeed, the patterns of
conduct, the manner in
which these acts were carried out, the length of time over which
they took place and the areas in which they occurred combine to
reveal a purpose, systematicity and some planning and coordination
from higher authorities. Furthermore, these practices are carried
out by persons from all segments of the Serbian population in the
areas described: members of the army, militias, special forces,
the police and civilians. Lastly, the Commission
notes that these unlawful acts are often heralded by the
perpetrators as positive, patriotic accomplishments.
Lastly, it should be noted that there was initially a link between local activities and activities of Serbs from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Krajina, Croatia, and also involvement by JNA. This linkage existed until 2 January 1992, the date of the cease-fire between Serbs in Krajina and JNA and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and is evident in many ways. In fact, these links are not denied by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This is supported by the use of JNA in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina before the conversion of some of these forces into the army of the so-called ``Serbian Republic of Bosnia''. *41 Furthermore, there is a strong political, diplomatic and military influence on the part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia over a wide range of decisions of the ``Bosnian Serb Republic'' and the ``Serb Republic of Krajina''.
Similar policies and practices of ``ethnic cleansing'' have occurred in the Serb-Krajina area and in eastern and western Slavonia in Croatia by Serbs against Croats and also by Croats against Serbs, as discussed below. *42 The patterns and practices of ``ethnic cleansing'' described above are the same in separate theatres of operation. This further substantiates the existence of a Serbian policy. One significant instance where this policy was carried out in Croatia is the destruction of the city of Vukovar in 1991. *43
Manifestations of ``ethnic cleansing'' have occurred throughout the territory of the former Yugoslavia, and similar practices have been committed at certain times and places by Croatian warring factions, as discussed in paragraph 147.
``Ethnic cleansing'' practices committed by Bosnian Croats with support from the Republic of Croatia against Bosnian Muslims in Herzegovina are politically related. *44 Furthermore, Croatian forces also engage in these practices against Serbs in the Krajina area and in eastern and western Slavonia. The violence committed against Serbs in these areas appears, however, to have the more defined political aim of removing them from the areas. Croats have used the Croatian Defence Council, police, armed civilians and local special forces to carry out these acts in the areas mentioned above. They have committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, including the destruction of Serbian villages and churches, killing of innocent civilians, torture and forceful removal of the civilian population. In the Krajina area and in eastern and western Slavonia, the cycle of violence between Serbs and Croats started in the early part of 1991, before the war formally began. The violence continued well beyond the end of that war. *45 Similar practices were also, on occasion, carried out by Croats against Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina. *46 But, the Croatian authorities have publicly deplored these practices and sought to stop them, thereby indicating that it is not part of the Government’s policy.
Bosnian Government forces have also committed the same type
of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against Serbs and
Croats, but not as part
of a policy of ``ethnic cleansing''. The number of these violations,
as reported, is significantly less than the reported violations
allegedly committed by the other warring factions.
According to the 1991 census, Opstina Prijedor had a total population of 112,470 people, of whom 44 per cent were Muslims, 42.5 percent Serbs, 5.6 per cent Croats, 5.7 per cent ``Yugoslavs'' and 2.2 per cent others (Ukrainians, Russians and Italians). In early April 1992, the total population may have been approximately 120,000 people, augmented, inter alia, by an influx of people who had fled the destruction of their villages in areas to the west of Opstina Prijedor.
Comparing the 1991 census figures with the results of a population count of June 1993, as published in Serbian-controlled media, gives the following overall picture:
1991 1993 Reduction New arrivals -------------------------------------------------------- Serbs | 47 745 53 637 -- 5 892 Muslims | 49 454 6 124 43 330 -- Croats | 6 300 3 169 3 131 -- Others | 8 971 2 621 6 350 -- --------------------------------------------------------Thus, the total number of killed and deported persons as of June 1993 is 52,811 (including limited numbers of refugees and people missing). Since then, the number of non-Serbs in the district have continued to decrease. The extreme persecution to which non-Serbs are subjected and their almost total lack of protection in the district is illustrated by the fact that ICRC and UNHCR asked permission from the Serbs, in March 1994, to evacuate all remaining non-Serbs from Opstina Prijedor.
The following factual findings of the Commission are based on 300 to 400 statements by surviving victims of the events in Opstina Prijedor currently living in different countries, local Serbian media reports of the events and research into the context of the events.
More than six months prior to the power change in 1992, the Serbs started to build up their own administration parallel to the legitimate authorities in Opstina Prijedor - what they called the Serbian Opstina Prijedor. This included, inter alia, a pure Serbian police force with secret service functions. The legitimate authorities in Opstina Prijedor had been lawfully elected, and the Prijedor Assembly reflected the ethnic composition of the district.
In early 1992, a very small Serbian paramilitary group took control of the television transmitter on the Kozara mountain in Opstina Prijedor, and as a consequence the population in the district could not receive television programmes from Sarajevo or Zagreb any longer, only from Belgrade and later Banja Luka. The television programmes from Belgrade insinuated that non-Serbs wanted war and threatened the Serbs.
Prior to the power change on 30 April 1992, Serbs secretly armed other Serbs in the district. Many soldiers from the Yugoslav People’s Army withdrew from Croatia to north-western Bosnia in early 1992. Instead of demobilizing those who returned to Opstina Prijedor, the legitimate authorities were pressured to accept redeploying them to control all inroads to and exits from the district together with police and the territorial defence forces (TDFs). The pressure applied was an ultimatum. The legitimate authorities were invited for a guided sightseeing tour of two Croatian villages just north of Bosanska Gradi ka which had been destroyed and left uninhabited. The message was that if the ultimatum was not met, the fate of Prijedor would be the same as that of these villages. The ultimatum was accepted.
In the wake of the power change, most non-Serbs were dismissed from their jobs, be it as police, public officials or even manual workers. In all key functions such as police and local administration, the empty posts were taken over by Serbs.
Even before 30 April 1992, Serbs had started to visit the non-Serbs who were licensed to hold weapons and demand that they give their weapons up. This process was intensified after the takeover and combined with a campaign in which non-Serbian police and TDFs were instructed to hand over their weapons and non-Serbian houses and villages were searched for arms.
Also, the local media, Radio Prijedor and Kozarski Vjesnik, joined in the anti-non-Serb propaganda. The media slandered former non-Serbian leaders by criticizing everything from their alleged lack of efficiency to their private lives. In addition, the media claimed that dangerous Muslim extremists were in the area, preparing genocide against the Serbs.
On 24 May 1992, a large-scale attack on the entire Kozarac area east of Prijedor town, under the Kozara Mountain, was carried out with intensive bombardment from all directions by artillery, tanks and small firearms. The bombardment lasted for more than 24 hours, before the infantry and paramilitary groups stormed Kozarac and nearby villages and searched for people in every building. The affected area had a total population of almost 27,000 people.
On 30 May 1992, a group of less than 150 armed non-Serbs had made their way to the old town in Prijedor to regain control over the town. They were defeated and the old town was razed. In the central parts of Prijedor town, all non-Serbs were forced to leave their houses as Serbian military, paramilitary, police and civilians advanced street by street with tanks and lighter arms. The non-Serbs had been instructed over the radio to hang a white piece of cloth on their homes to signal surrender.
Starting on 20 July 1992, a large area of predominantly non-Serbian villages on the left bank of the River Sava (the larger Hambarine/Ljubija area) was attacked in a similar manner to the Kozarac area. However, it was predominantly infantry and paramilitary groups that carried out the destruction. At the time of the attack, the areas had a population of close to 20,000 people, including people who had come for shelter after their villages west of Opstina Prijedor had been destroyed.
Today the former homes of almost 47,000 people in the Kozarac and Hambarine/Ljubija areas are empty and destroyed. Some were hit by artillery shells, while others were set ablaze in the initial attack. All the homes were later pillaged and a large number blown up, one at a time from inside, destroying especially the inside and the roofs. Most of the artillery used during these attacks had been moved into position some time before the Serbs took power on 30 April 1992.
The second group - the men - were taken to hastily opened concentration camps in a ceramic tile factory, Keraterm, next to Prijedor town and on the premises of the iron ore mine and processing plant at Omarska. Massacres, torture and appalling living conditions quickly depleted the number of detainees.
In an interview printed in Kozarski Vjesnik on 9 April 1993, Simo Drlja a, present Deputy Minister of Interior of the ``Serb Republic of Bosnia'', stated that:
As the ``informative talks'' or interrogations basically took place in the Omarska and Keraterm camps, it can be concluded that more than 6,000 adult males were taken to these concentration camps in the short period they existed (from the end of May to the beginning of August 1992). Since only 1,503 were moved on to Manjaca camp according to Mr. Drlja a, a limited number transferred to the Trnopolje camp and almost none released, it may be assumed that the death toll was extremely high. The concentration camp premises were sometimes so packed with people that no more inmates could be crammed in. On at least one occasion this allegedly resulted in an entire busload of newly captured people being arbitrarily executed en masse. Some 37 women were detained in Omarska, while no women were kept over time in Keraterm.
The women were normally taken to the Trnopolje camp. In Trnopolje, the regime was far better than in Omarska and Keraterm. None the less, harassment and malnutrition was a problem for all the inmates. Rapes, beatings and other kinds of torture, and even killings, were not rare. Some of these detained women were released after a few days, as there was a lack of space in the Trnopolje camp as well.
On their way to the concentration camps, some captives were detained for shorter periods at improvised detention facilities, such as sports halls in schools and stadiums (notably in the Prijedor suburb of Tukovi and in Ljubija).
As soon as the Serbs had captured the first groups of non- Serbs, the large-scale deportations of the women started. Some were deported straight from the improvised detention facilities, the majority from the Trnopolje camp. The majority of deportees were cramped into buses or onto military trucks and sent towards Travnik. These deportees had to walk almost 30 km from where the trucks and buses dumped them in a desolate area in the outskirts of the Vlasic Mountain to reach non-Serb held areas in central Bosnia. A few were deported the safer way to Bosanska Gradi ka. Sizeable numbers were taken by rail - many in cattle wagons - to Travnik. Some women were let off the trains in Doboj from where they were ushered ahead on foot in the direction of Tuzla. Some individuals perished during the transport owing to the mid-summer heat and to suffocating conditions both in cattle wagons and on closed military trucks, where the deportees were also deprived of food and water.
Despite the absence of a real non-Serbian threat, the main objective of the concentration camps, especially Omarska but also Keraterm, seems to have been to eliminate the non-Serbian leadership. Political leaders, officials from the courts and administration, academics and other intellectuals, religious leaders, key business people and artists - the backbone of the Muslim and Croatian communities - were removed, apparently with the intention that the removal be permanent. Similarly, law enforcement and military personnel were targeted for destruction. These people also constituted a significant element of the non-Serbian group in that its depletion rendered the group at large defenceless against abuses of any kind. Other important traces of Muslim and Croatian culture and religion, including mosques and Catholic churches, were destroyed.
The military destruction of the non-Serbian habitations in Opstina Prijedor took place when the area was under the command of Colonel Vladimir Arsi and Major Radmilo Zeljaja in close cooperation with military superiors, at least in the regional capital Banja Luka. Units stationed outside of Opstina Prijedor assisted in the military destruction, as did paramilitary units whose attacks were timed to fit with the artillery attacks and the manoeuvres of the regular army units.
In the above-mentioned interview printed in Kozarski Vjesnik on 9 April 1993, Simo Drlja a stated:
The secret police and the military police provided the concentration camps with interrogators and guards. For some of the most gruesome torture and killings of detainees, the assistance of paramilitary units and some locals was also called upon. Quasi-military intervention units were used to trace and capture the non-Serbian leadership. The latter units killed prisoners arbitrarily during transport to the Manja a camp and arranged mass-killings of ``deported'' prisoners in the Vlasic Mountain area.
The other members of the crisis committee ran the community in which all these violations occurred. They participated in the administrative decision-making. The gains on different levels of the systematic looting of non-Serbian property were shared by many local Serbs.
The Commission of Experts possesses the names of hundreds of alleged perpetrators at different levels and in a variety of capacities.
The Sarajevo Romanija Corps is the Bosnian-Serb force of the Bosnian-Serbian Army. The Corps has surrounded the city since the beginning of the siege. *49 It is the successor of the unit of JNA that occupied the same positions until May 1992. The Romanija Corps headquarters are located overlooking the city at Lukavica. The command structure has for the most part remained the same throughout the siege. Three succeeding Generals have commanded that Corp since 1992.
Although the Serbian forces surrounding the city have superior firepower, it has been observed that it is unlikely that they could effectively take control of the city. This observation is based, in part, on the fact that the Bosnian forces have more combatants. In addition, controlling the city and its numerous buildings and streets could prove an overwhelming task for the Serb forces. The Serb forces have, therefore, concentrated their efforts on weakening the city through constant bombardment from the surrounding hillsides. A possible explanation for the shifting of firing sites from the mountainous areas surrounding Sarajevo may be that artillery personnel move from one emplacement to the other. Another explanation for this phenomenon could be the pattern of delivery of munitions. There were, however, no apparent munitions shortages.
The chronology confirms that certain areas of the city have also been systematically shelled throughout the course of the siege, particularly cultural and religious structures and public utilities. The city centre, the airport and southwestern suburbs had consistently been the most often targeted areas. The historic old town area had also been heavily shelled.
On 5 February 1994, at least 68 persons were killed and 200
others were wounded in the shelling of a market in the city centre.
In reaction to that attack, NATO issued an ultimatum on 9 February
which gave Bosnian Serb and Bosnian forces 10 days, starting on 11
February, to withdraw their heavy weapons from a designated
exclusion zone or face heavy airstrikes. Very
little progress was made with regard to the ultimatum until 17
February, when the Russian Federation announced that it was sending
a contingent of 400 troops to the city, and persuaded Bosnian Serb
forces to comply with the NATO ultimatum. On 20 February, NATO
announced that there had been virtual compliance with the ultimatum
and that there was no need for airstrikes ``at
this stage''. Since that date, artillery fire has substantially
decreased in Sarajevo.
The mission participants met with a wide range of local officials, including the Bosnian State War Crimes Commission, city officials, medical officials and military officers.
The objective of the incident study was to analyse in depth a specific incident which occurred during the siege of Sarajevo, to identify specific violations of the law of war (particularly violations in which civilian casualties have occurred) to analyse the circumstances of the incident and to assess the feasibility of identifying and prosecuting alleged offenders (particularly the military commanders). The report is based on information that could be obtained in and around Sarajevo.
No incident was chosen prior to arrival in Sarajevo. Criteria to be considered in selecting an incident included: number of casualties, number of projectiles fired, sources and, to a lesser extent, time elapsed since the incident. It was hoped that it would be possible to get information from Bosnian, UNPROFOR and Serbian sources. The rationale for preferring an incident in which more than one projectile was fired was that multiple projectiles would give a stronger indication of intent to commit an offence.
Bosnian State War Crimes Commission authorities were requested to provide evidence concerning six incidents of their choice, on the understanding that those incidents would be considered, but not necessarily chosen, for in-depth investigation. The evidence could not be compiled by the Commission within a short period of time and, as a result, an alternative approach was decided upon. Bosnian authorities suggested six incidents about which they believed a reasonable amount of information would be available. Two of these incidents, the shelling of a soccer game on 1 June 1993 and the shelling of a funeral in mid-June 1993, were selected for the possible in-depth investigation. Preliminary investigation indicated information on the shelling of the funeral would only be available from one source, as heavy rains the day after had washed away the evidence which UNPROFOR had intended to gather.
The incident finally selected for in-depth investigation was the mortar shelling of a soccer game in the Dobrinja suburb of Sarajevo on 1 June 1993. The investigators interviewed several witnesses on the Bosnian side, and also reviewed the crater analysis produced by UNPROFOR. Investigators were unable to interview witnesses on the Serbian side.
On the basis of the investigation it is reasonable to conclude that:
On the basis of the above factors, it is reasonable to conclude that a prima facie case exists that persons on the Serbian side deliberately attacked civilians and, therefore, committed a war crime. With the information available, it is not possible to identify the probable offenders at present.
In connection with the analytical law-of-war survey and of the battle of Sarajevo, the study team visited several incident sites in Sarajevo. The shelling and sniping precluded an in-depth survey of property damage. The team, however, met with a wide range of officials of the Bosnian Government and UNPROFOR officers and obtained documentary material from them. The team was unable to meet with Serbian officials in Pale, even though it attempted to do so.
The report prepared by the investigation team is a non- exhaustive survey of law of armed conflict issues arising during the siege of Sarajevo. The team did not have an opportunity to visit the Bosnian Serb Army forces during the investigation and received no allegations of Bosnian Government misconduct during the siege except for allegations from UNPROFOR sources concerning positioning of and firing by Bosnian Government forces. The report focuses on combat-related offences, unlawful targeting and the use of unlawful means and methods of warfare. It concluded that it is unlikely that weapons that are illegal per se were used during the siege, or that there was unauthorized use by personnel of the Bosnian Serb Army of vehicles carrying United Nations markings - which could be viewed as perfidious conduct. If persons were killed or wounded as a result of perfidious action, a grave breach of Protocol I would be established. Somewhat similarly, it would have to be established that named individuals attacked or authorized attacks on United Nations forces for these persons to be charged with violating the laws or customs of war, as set out in article 3 of the statute of the International Tribunal, in that they would be committing a grave breach of article 85, paragraph 3 (a), of Protocol I by making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack. In the Sarajevo context, United Nations peace-keepers are non-combatants and entitled to be treated as civilians. The tendency of both sides to control food, water and electricity for publicity purposes, the intermingling of military forces and the civilian population and the fact that no one appears to have died during the siege from starvation, dehydration or freezing, combine to make difficult the establishment of a solid case that starvation is being used as a method of warfare. The conduct of this matter has been deplorable, but its criminality is debatable.
Most of the war crimes committed in Sarajevo have involved attacks on civilian persons and objects and destruction of cultural property. An accurate list of persons killed and seriously injured during the siege of Sarajevo needs to be established. It will also have to be determined if, at the time of death, they were combatants or non- combatants and when, where and how they were killed or injured. Once this information is available, it will be possible to distinguish military and civilian casualties. It may also be possible to determine where the projectiles causing casualties came from in such a way that one can establish that they were caused by a particular unit. It will also be possible to determine how many of the civilian casualties were caused by some form of sniper fire. Irrespective of the rule of proportionality, it is reasonable to presume that civilian casualties caused by sniper fire are the result of deliberate attacks on civilians and not the result of indiscriminate attacks, as may be the case in shelling.
The compilation of a chronological and quantitative survey of damage to civilian objects in Sarajevo was not attempted by the study team. *53 Its preliminary observations follow. It is obvious that damage has been caused to certain religious, cultural and medical buildings. There is a strong possibility that there has been a deliberate attempt to target certain types of objects. For example, a detailed study of the shelling of the Kosevo medical facility or of the National Library would probably indicate these objects had been deliberately targeted. There is also a strong possibility that a deliberate effort has been made to target religious facilities. The concealment of Bosnian Government forces among civilian property may have caused the attraction of fire from the Bosnian Serb Army which may have resulted in legitimate collateral damage. There is enough apparent damage to civilian objects in Sarajevo to conclude that either civilian objects have been deliberately targeted or they have been indiscriminately attacked.
There have been incidents in the past where substantial
civilian casualties have been caused and substantial military advantage
gained by a particular military action. In those cases, one might
attempt to quantify both military advantage and civilian losses and
apply the somewhat subjective rule of proportionality. As a
general statement, however, the rule of proportionality is not
relevant to the sniping activities of the Bosnian Serb Army forces,
and it is of questionable relevance to many of the artillery
bombardments. The Bosnian Serb Army forces are deliberately
targeting the civilian population of Sarajevo, either as a measure
of retaliation or to weaken their political resolve. Attacking the
civilian population is a war crime.
The Commission sent a team consisting of Canadian military personnel and a forensic expert from Physicians for Human Rights to visit the area and the destroyed villages from 27 to 31 October 1993, and to review reports and photographs provided by UNPROFOR and ``Serb Republic of Krajina'' authorities.
Their investigations concluded that, although some of the dead probably were murdered, no individual could at the time be identified to be directly responsible. Furthermore, there was no strong unambiguous pattern of criminal killing sufficient at the time to affix responsibility upon the Croat commanders for deliberate killing of civilians.
At the same time, this investigation resulted in the following findings concerning wanton destruction:
It is the view of the Commission that the Medak Pocket investigation report provides exceptionally strong support for the suggestion that prima facie cases can be developed against named Croatian senior officers for the wanton destruction of civilian property.
The report prepared for the Commission and contained in annex VII as a result of the investigation includes suggestions for draft charges, synopses of evidence and trial plans for the possible prosecution of named Croatian senior officers.
Protocol I Geneva Conventions Protocol II
Yugoslavia (Ratification) 21 April 195011 June 1979
Slovenia (Succession) 26 March 199226 March 1992
Croatia (Succession) 11 May 199211 May 1992
Bosnia and Herzegovina (Succession) 31 December 199231 December 1992
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