General Ratko Mladic’s war diaries, which the ICTY Prosecution announced today it had received from Belgrade, are considered to be key pieces of evidence in some of the ongoing trials at the UN war crimes tribunal.
The Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, made public today that it had received the diaries from Serbia in May.
The Prosecution recently filed motions asking for permission to use the diaries in the trials of wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic; wartime high-ranking Republika Srpska police officers Stojan Zupljanin and Mico Stanisic; and top officials from the Serbian state security Jovica Stanisic and Frenki Simatovic.
Ratko Mladic, who has been on the run since an indictment against him was confirmed in 1995, was the commander of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Authorities in Serbia, where he is believed to be hiding, found 18 diaries, containing in total about 3,500 pages, in the apartment of his wife, Bosiljka Mladic. The diaries were found in February this year and handed over to the ICTY Prosecution in May.
Copies of parts of the diaries were previously presented to General Manojlo Milovanovic, who was Mladic’s deputy and close friend, at the trial against Frenki Simatovic and Jovica Stanisic. He identified them as having been written by Mladic, saying that the general took notes during every meeting he attended.
According to the Prosecution, the diaries “constitute a significant volume of new evidence”, covering the period from 29 June 1991 to 28 November 1996.
“The prosecution is still examining the material that has arrived,” Olga Kavran, the Prosecution spokesperson, told the media in The Hague.
In its motions to the judges, the Prosecution explained that the diaries contain notes about Mladic’s meetings with a number of wartime Bosnian Serb leaders including Momcilo Krajisnik, sentenced by the ICTY to 20 years’ imprisonment, and Velibor Ostojic and Nikola Koljevic. They also include notes from his meetings with Serbian leaders, including Slobodan Milosevic, when they discussed the situation in Bosnia.
Milosevic, who died in a detention unit in The Hague in 2006, had claimed that Serbia had nothing to do with the war in Bosnia.
Among others topics, the diaries contain notes from the meeting of the Supreme Command of the VRS from 15 August 1993 regarding sanctions being threatened by the international community in relation to the situation in Sarajevo; notes about military plans in Sarajevo and Gorazde; and notes about Mladic’s meeting with senior international peacekeepers concerning the treatment of Srebrenica’s population.
Copies of parts of the diaries were published last year by Belgrade daily Blic and Sarajevo weekly Slobodna Bosna. They showed that Mladic often met Serbian officials and that he arranged military shipments from the former Soviet Union via Serbia during the war in Bosnia.
In the apartment of Mladic’s wife, Serbian authorities also seized a number of audio and video recordings, a computer memory stick, medical records, mobile phone SIM cards and miscellaneous papers.
“The Prosecution is in the process of inventorying these items and may make additional motions with respect to them in the future,” the Prosecution’s press statement read.