HLC Demands Investigation on Svetozar Andrić and Tom Kovač Be Initiated

The Humanitarian Law Center addressed a letter to the War Crimes Prosecutor Vladimir Vukčević on 3 February 2006 demanding that he opens investigation on the former Republic of Srpska Army General, Svetozar Andrić and former Republic of Srpska Deputy Minister of Interior Toma Kovač because there is reasonable suspicion that they are criminally liable for the grave breeches of Geneva Conventions committed during the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Humanitarian Law Center Executive Director, Nataša Kandić, stated the following in this letter:

Based on the documents , which were presented before the Belgrade District Court War Crimes Chamber, as well as documents published in certain media , we believe that the War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office should initiate prompt investigation on former General of the Republic of Srpska Army, Svetozar Andrić, and former Republic of Srpska Deputy Minister of Interior, Toma Kovač because there is reasonable suspicion that they are criminally liable for the grave breeches of Geneva Conventions committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the armed conflicts. According to the information, which is in the HLC possession, Svetozar Andrić lives in Belgrade, while Tomo Kovač is in Herceg Novi, but he stays in the capital of Serbia very often.

Based on the documents, which the witness-injured party, Fadil Banjanović, submitted to the Trial Chamber in the case “Zvornik” on 31 January 2006, it could be seen that the then Republic of Srpska Major, the Brigade Commander of the Independent Birač region, ordered on 28 May 1992 that “Muslim population must be expelled” and that is “must be organized with municipalities through which the expulsion is executed. Women and children can be expelled and men eligible for fighting should be kept in the detention camps because of the exchange”, says Major Svetozar Andrić’s order.

Three days later, 31 May 1992, Svetozar Andrić ordered that the camp “Sušica” in Vlasenica should be opened. According to the witnesses, several thousands of Bosniaks and Croats went through this camp. Murders, tortures, and rape of women happened in “Sušica”. Thus, 600 people were killed in this detention camp. “Sušica” detainees were subject to physical, psychological mistreatment, inhuman living conditions in which they were denied adequate food, water, medical treatment, and sleeping conditions

Besides that, during the attack on Srebrenica, Svetozar Andrić was one of the Drina Corps operations officers under the command of Radoslav Krstić, who is convicted for abetting the commission of genocide before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

While Svetozar Andrić was the leader of the Republic of Srpska Army Drina Corps operations, Tomo Kovač ordered on 10 July 1995, a day prior to the beginning of the operation in Srebrenica, that the Republic of Srpska Special Brigade (SBP) should be established with Ljubomir Borovčanin as the Commander. During the attack of the Srebrenica enclave and the execution of 8,000 Bosniaks, which followed, the unit organized upon Tomo Kovač’s order was situated in the Bratunac, Potočari, Sandići, Kravica, Srebrenica, and Zvornik area and it participated in the crimes committed against the civilian population. Kovač had previously issued an order that “Second Special Police Unit from Šekovići, Zvornik Public Security Centre 1st Company, Republic of Srpska Krajina, Serbia, and Republic of Srpska Ministry of Interior Joint Unit, and the unit from the Jahorina Training Camp, should become part of this special brigade. That clearly indicates that the Republic of Serbia state authorities were involved in the Srebrenica massacre.

By being kept in silence, the fact that Serbian Ministry of Interior forces and other military units under the command of the Serbian State Security, such as the “Scorpions”, committed crimes in Srebrenica, cannot defend Serbia from the charges for genocide pressed by Bosnia and Herzegovina before the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the FR Yugoslavia. Because of the denial of the Serbian state authorities’ participation in the war in BiH, Serbia became a centre for people reasonably suspected of being involved in the gravest crimes against humanity.