In the cross-examination, the prosecutor confronted Zdravko Tolimir’s defense expert witness, former VRS colonel Ratko Skrbic, with a series of documents and other evidence which corroborated the prosecution’s claim that about 7,000 men of military age from the enclave were killed in July 1995 after the fall of Srebrenica
Tolimir’s defense expert contested the prosecution’s claim about 7,000 Srebrenica victims. He did confirm he didn’t use most of the documents shown to him by the prosecutor as he was writing his expert reports, Movements of the Population in Srebrenica and Srebrenica and Zepa. In these reports, the witness claims that the number of victims in July 1995 ‘cannot be expressed in thousands, but in hundreds’. The prosecutor showed the witness some documents from the International Red Cross and other organizations which speak about the number of missing persons after the fall of Srebrenica, the forensic findings from the exhumations of mass graves and the number of victims identified using DNA analysis.
Tolimir’s expert says that he didn’t use the materials because he, in line with his ‘chosen methodology’ followed only the ‘movements of Muslims before and after Operation Krivaja 95’, which was the code name of the VRS operation in Srebrenica. As the witness said, the figures for the missing persons and the exhumed and identified victims were therefore irrelevant for his ‘calculation’.
The prosecutor then showed a series of intercepted conversations, VRS documents and witnesses’ testimonies which all speak about thousands of Bosniaks captured after the fall of the enclave. The defense expert was unaware of the intercepted conversation in which Ljubisa Beara, security chief in the VRS Main Staff, spoke about 3,500 prisoners, asking the Drina Corps commander to help him ‘distribute another 3,500 parcels’. The defense expert was likewise unaware of the testimony of a security officer from the East Bosnia Corps who said in his evidence in The Hague that Tolimir had ordered him to stop the preparations for the arrival of 1,000 to 1,300 prisoners who were supposed to be moved to the Batkovic camp.
Although he knew that the commander of the VRS Zvornik Brigade Vinko Pandurevic set up the corridor ‘on his own initiative’ to let the 28th Division soldiers pass through to the BH Army controlled territory, Skrbic claimed he was unaware of Pandurevic’s combat report in which he protested against the fact that 3,000 prisoners had been brought into his zone of responsibility.
As Tolimir’s expert witness and an investigator in Radivoj Miletic’s defense team Skrbic had access to all those documents, the prosecutor contended, but he never asked for them. Skrbic confirmed that it was true.
The prosecutor asked the witness about his book entitled, Genocide against Truth. The book was published last year and its content was almost identical to his expert report. Skrbic said he was motivated to write a book because he had serious doubts that his colleagues and senior officers from the military were capable of ‘lining up and killing thousands of men’, and by the fact that only 200 of the thousands of bodies moved to Tuzla in 1998 could be linked with Srebrenica using DNA analysis.
The prosecutor asked the witness if in the meantime he had learned that over 6,000 bodies had been exhumed from the mass graves and that 5,777 of the Srebrenica victims had been identified using DNA analysis. Skrbic said he heard some of this information, but didn’t use it in his reports. Zdravko Tolimir’s expert continues his evidence on Monday.