“Don’t kill us! Our families will bring money.”
In chilling detail, a confessed Bosnian Serb war criminal describes the massacre outside Srebrenica, where hundreds of Muslims begged for their lives only to die in a barrage of bullets.
Drazen Erdemovic, a 25-year-old soldier sought by the international war crimes tribunal, told the respected Paris daily Le Figaro a crisis of conscience prompted him to slay “only 70” victims.
“I tried to kill as few people as possible,” he said. “At one point, I murmured to one of my comrades, ‘God knows everything we’ve done today.’ He snapped back at me: ‘Shut up and shoot!”’
Officials of the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands are to go to Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on Tuesday to discuss the case with Yugoslav officials. They also want to question Radoslav Kramenkovic, 29, a friend of Erdemovic who served with him in a special 80-man commando unit. Neither has been charged.
The court has indicted 53 people on war crimes charges. Only two, both Bosnian Serbs, are in custody so far. Serb authorities refuse to hand over any suspects for trial, but have agreed to let investigators question witnesses on Serb soil.
The most prominent suspects - Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Gen. Ratko Mladic - remain defiant, saying that the NATO-led force in Bosnia would pay heavily if it tried to arrest them.
“They have to understand one thing: that I am very expensive and that my people support me,” Mladic said in an interview with Athens’ private television network Mega, to be aired today.
“They can’t arrest me and they should not even think of that. I am going to travel whenever I feel the need to travel,” Karadzic said. ” … I don’t know how long this farce of a court in The Hague is going to last.”
The two interviews were conducted on March 4-5 by a Mega reporter in Bosnian Serb territory - Mladic’s at an undisclosed location, and Karadic’s outside the Bosnian Serb stronghold of Pale.
Mladic also claimed he could prove that massacres did not occur at Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave in eastern Bosnia that fell to the Bosnian Serbs last July.
The Bosnian government and the International Red Cross are trying to determine what happened to about 7,000 men missing from Srebrenica.