Factual error on ICTY


It is not true that  “Muslim units” burnt and destroyed Serb villages Fakovići, Bjelovac, Kravica and Ježestica. The trial judgment of Naser Orić confirms that “Muslim units” were not responsible for the ‘destruction’ of these notorious Serbian military bases around Srebrenica.

Significant and Offensive Factual Error on the Web Site of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia


To the ICTY Press Office
To the Office of the Prosecutor

The judicial findings of the Hague Tribunal are not definite and not all-encompassing. A large number of war crimes committed against the Bosniak population of the Srebrenica region — especially in a period between April 1992 and April 1993 — were never prosecuted by your office.

For example, the First Srebrenica Massacre (18 April–8 May 1992) — after the first fall of Srebrenica, Serb forces killed a total of 74 Bosniak women, children and elderly; the Sase detention camp (1992/93) — hundreds of Bosniak women, children and elderly were detained in this camp and subjected to rape and cruel treatment by Serb forces controlling this part of the war-time municipality; the Srebrenica Children Massacre (12 April 1993) — at least 60 Bosniak children and youth were killed and over 100 wounded as a result in a Serb shelling of Srebrenica’s elementary school. According to the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo, between April and June 1992 (the first three months of the Bosnian war) Serb forces killed at least at least 3,166 Bosniaks in Srebrenica and surrounding pre-war municipalities of Bratunac, Vlasenica, Rogatica and Visegrad.

I understand, you have to work with a limited number of factual events that were established by the Tribunal for the period of the siege and up to the demilitarization of the enclave  (April 1992 – April 1993); in other words, you must stick only to the facts that were established by the Tribunal. But even if we limit our facts only to Tribunal’s findings, the “The Interactive Map of Cases” on your web site still provides inaccurate and  misleading information for the municipalities of Bratunac and Srebrenica. I kindly ask you to update your content in alliance with established facts.


While most of your summary for the municipality of Bratunac complies with the Tribunal’s findings, the following sentence is not supported by the facts:

NOT TRUE: “From May 1992 to February 1993 they [“Muslim forces”] burnt and destroyed Bosnian Serb villages in the municipality (Fakovići, Bjelovac, Kravica, Ježestica). 

For the destruction of Kravica, Fakovići and Bjelovac, the judgment in Naser Orić case states that the prosecution failed to present convincing evidence that Bosniak forces were responsible for the destruction of these villages, because Serb forces in the area used artillery in the fighting; for instance, in villages of  Fakovići and Bjelovac, Serbs even used the warplanes. The Tribunal also established that:  (1) the aforementioned Serb villages were militarized, and  (2) Serb forces, stationed in the aforementioned villages,  were launching artillery and infantry attacks on nearby Bosniak villages. [ Source: Naser Orić Trial Judgment, paragraphs: 103, 110, 112,  623, 625, 631, 637, 639, 641, 643-645, 649, 651-652, 658, 662, 664, 671, 674. ]

I suggest you rewrite the sentence as:

From May 1992 to February 1993, Bosnian Army attacked villages from which Serb forces launched attacks on Srebrenica (Fakovići, Bjelovac, Kravica, Ježestica). 

Overall, the rest of your summary is fine, but you may wish to use the term Bosniaks, instead of the term “Muslims”:

“Bratunac is a town and a municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, located in a strategic position near the Serbian border and Srebrenica. In April 1992 Bosnian Serbs forcefully took over many of the areas of this ethnically mixed municipality, triggering an exodus of many Muslims, who formed the majority of the population at the time. Those expulsions were accompanied by brutality and violence: killings, sexual assaults and rapes.  Throughout 1992 some 1,000 non-Serbs were killed in the municipality. In one incident, on 9 May 1992, 65 Muslim civilians were killed in Glogova. Also, on 14 July 1995 hundreds of Bosnian Muslim men were transported from in and around Bratunac to the Grbavci school complex near Orahovac, where they were executed by the Serbs. “


In your response to my questions  (dated Sept. 21, 2001) you stated:

“… we took care to ensure that the information provided [on the Interactive Map of Cases] conforms to the ICTY’s legal findings… In that respect, we are satisfied that the information on Srebrenica, if not all encompassing, is correct.”

The summary for Srebrenica reads:

MISLEADING: “Over a period of years, Bosnian Serbs besieged the enclave, frequently shelling it, while Bosnian forces operating from the enclave attacked surrounding Serb villages. The Tribunal found that between June 1992 and March 1993, a number of Serbs were captured by Bosnian Muslim forces and confined at the Srebrenica Police Station and at the building behind the Municipal building. They were subjected to cruel treatment and, in some instances, were beaten to death or killed.”

The summary is misleading because of the disproportionate weight that the  ‘description’ of events gives to one element of the narrative, diluting the substance of the Tribunal’s findings that Serb forces, operating in Serb villages,  constantly attacked Bosniak villages around Srebrenica.

While it is true that several Serb civilians from the Bratunac Municipality were captured, detained and mistreated — several killed — in a local Police Station in Srebrenica, it is also true that thousands of Bosniak civilians were captured by Serb forces in 1992, confined in notorious detention centers around Srebrenica and subjected to rape, torture and other cruel treatment (for example, between late May and October 1992, at least 8,000 non-Serb civilians were detained in the Sušica camp. The camp was located in the pre-war municipality of Vlasenica that bordered with Srebrenica.) Thousands of Bosniaks — confined and brutalized in the Sušica camp — were  subjected to far worse treatment than several Serbs detailed in  Srebrenica’s Police Station.  [ SourceDragan Nikolić, Case Information Sheet. ]

While large scale raids were being conducted on Bosniak villages around Bratunac, the Bosnian Serb forces in the municipality of Srebrenica converted the Sase mine and its administrative building into a detention camp where Bosniak civilians from nearby hamlets and villages were imprisoned. Beatings, torture, rapes, and murders were a daily occurrence at the camp. In Naser Orić trial, we learn from from Bosniak victims that “many Muslim civilians, including more than a dozen children, were killed” in this camp.  One of the victims was Edina Karić, who was only 15 at the time. She testified for Oric’s defence: “…We were raped and abused and beaten throughout the night, and I myself had a gun pointed at my head all the time… I was screaming too much.” She testified that local Serbs were not ‘peace-loving’ village guards as they liked to portray themselves in their evidence describing the situation around Srebrenica, but “…an army with lots of weapons… They were killing, looting, raping, setting houses alight, and they perpetrated a great many crimes.” [ Source: For footnotes/court transcripts, see: Prelude to the Srebrenica Genocide, Bosnian Institute, UK. ]

The core findings of the Tribunal

As part of a widespread campaign of ethnic cleansing, Bosniaks were persecuted and then herded into the besieged enclave  — at the mercy of their attackers — only to be starved, terrorized, and killed. Handsomely armed with superior military weapons, afforded to them by the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army, Serb villages were used as bases for constant attacks on Srebrenica and nearby Bosniak villages.  They also blocked humanitarian aid from entering the besieged enclave of Srebrenica. The Tribunal found that “Bosnian Serb forces controlling the access roads were not allowing international humanitarian aid – most importantly, food and medicine – to reach Srebrenica. As a consequence, there was a constant and serious shortage of food causing starvation to peak in the winter of 1992/1993. Numerous people died or were in an extremely emaciated state due to malnutrition.” This explains why Bosniaks counter-attacked Kravica and a number of other Serb villages. As Tribunal indicates in Oric’s judgment, it was the Serb foces that attacked numerous Bosniak villages from the direction Kravica, Šiljkovići, Ježestica, Brađevina, Ratkovići and other heavily militarized Serb villages. Serb attacks, combined with Serb-imposed humanitarian disaster in Srebrenica, created conditions for the Bosniak population to attack Serbian military bases (villages) and commit individual war crimes. As noted in Oric’s “Case Information Sheet”, “the severe malnutrition and the psychological effects of being under siege had severely affected the judgement of people in Srebrenica, several of whom behaved erratically.” Furthermore, the Tribunal also found that, “Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes.” [ Source: Naser Orić Trial Judgment, paragraphs:  103, 110, 112,  623, 625, 631, 637, 639, 641, 643-645, 649, 651-652, 658, 662, 664, 671, 674. ]