A verbal argument erupted on Thursday between a woman whose family was killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and Serbian right-wing politician, Vojislav Seselj, in front of Belgrade's Higher Court where yet another war crimes trial was posponed because the accused did not show up.
Nedeljko Milidragovic was to face the judge for atrocities committed in the village of Kravica, near Srebrenica. Kada Hotic, a represantative of the Movement of Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves, told journalists in front of the court that this was the fourth or fifth time already that a hearing was postponed due to defendants not showing up, and that the whole process is beginning to look like a show.
Seselj, who came to attend the trial, told reporters that the Srebrenica massacre was not genocide. When he asked if anyone has any questions, Hotic said, “give me back my son and my family.”
Seselj replied that he cannot do anything for Hotic, that he does not know where her son is and that “there was no genocide committed in Srebrenica and 7.000 – 8.000 people were not killed, but only 1.200 were killed by a firing squad.”
According to Seselj, the entire narrative regarding the Srebrenica genocide is a fabrication. He was acquitted of several counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Balkan wars in a first-instance ruling by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia pending appeal.
“He should sober up, admit his faults, and speak out on the motives for why it is like this. What he is saying is a lie,” Hotic told reporters afterwards, “I am here today to witness the trial regarding the crimes in Kravica, in that hangar where my brother was killed, where his head was cut off and his bones were crushed without a trace of bullets.”
“If he was present, he also committed this crime. We have witnesses. Prosecutors have something to base this upon, nobody is making up anything,” she said.
“I wish I was lying, because then I would have a son, husband, brothers and family. Apparently these experts proved that there was a genocide. There was genocide in other places as well,” she added.
Milidragovic is among the eight former Bosnian Serb special policemen accused of having killed hundreds of Bosniaks after the fall of the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica. He missed the hearing because of health problems and the court asked to see his medical documentation.
Prosecutor Mioljub Vitorovic asked the court to separate Milidragovic's case from the others should the suspect be absent again. The court did reply to the request yet. Nedeljko Milidragovic, Aleksa Golijanin, Milivoje Batinica, Dragomir Parovic, Aleksandat Dacevic, Boro Miletic, Jovan Petrovic and Vidoslav Vasic are accused of crimes against civilians. The indictment states the defendants were, together with unknown members of the Republika Srpska Special police unit, involved in the murder of several hundred Bosniaks in an agricultural warehouse in Kravica in July 1995. The defendants, who are released pending trial, deny the accusations.
The trial began on February 6, 2017, but the first indictment was dismissed as the mandate of the war crimes prosecutor who submitted it had expired and nobody was selected at the time to fill in the vacant position. When the new prosecutor submitted a request to continue the trial based on the old indictment, the Higher Court denied the request, saying a new indictment needs to be submitted. An Appeals court decision, however, granted the prosecutor's request.
New hearings are set for May 23 and 24, where three protected witnesses are to testify.