Dragan Obrenović was chief of staff and deputy commander of the 1st Zvornik Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army from December 1992 through November 1996. After Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, Obrenović helped implement the plan to kill Bosniak civilians and prisoners of war.
Indicted for his role in the massacres, in 2003 Obrenović pleaded guilty to crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). He is serving a 17-year sentence in a Norwegian prison.
The ICTY has held several trials regarding Srebrenica, including that of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosević who died in custody before his case, which included charges of genocide, was concluded. Bosnian leader Radovan Karadzić, arrested July 21, 2008, is charged with genocide, as is Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić, who remains at large.
Dragan Obrenović − At the beginning of the war, it seemed as if the war and all it brought with it was impossible, that this wasn’t really happening to us, and that everything would be resolved within a few days.
We didn’t even notice how we were drawn into the vortex of inter-ethnic hatred and how neighbours were no longer able to live beside each other, how death moved into the vicinity, and we didn’t even notice that we had got used to it.
In Bosnia, a neighbour means more than a relative.
In Bosnia, having coffee with your neighbour is a ritual, and this is what we trampled on and forgot.
And in this vortex of terrible misfortune and horror, the horror of Srebrenica happened.
I am here before Your Honors, because I wish to express my remore. I have thought for a long time, and I’m always followed by the same thought – Guilt.
I find it very hard to say this truth. I am to blame for everything I did at that time. I am trying to erase all this and to be what I was not at that time. I am also to blame for what I did not do, for not trying to protect those prisoners.
Regardless of the temporary nature of my then-post, I ask myself again and again, “What could I have done that I didn’t do?”
Thousands of innocent victims perished. Graves remain behind, refugees, general destruction and misfortune and misery.
I bear part of the responsibility for this.