Ratko Mladić’s Secret Notes

Everyone was afraid of Carla del Ponte. She was the chief prosecutor of the international war crimes court for the territory of the former Yugoslavia, had political power, and was one of the few who could give orders. Her visits to Belgrade, Zagreb and other capitals of the countries of the former Yugoslavia were therefore not only regular diplomatic visits, but they were always conversations of which the hosts were afraid of. Specifically, when she was delivering the closed envelopes with requests for arrest of war crimes suspects, there was no room for any negotiations, only for the answer of when they would be handed over to the Hague Tribunal. Carla del Ponte had two mechanisms that allowed her to be so unscrupulous. The first was the task of The Hague Prosecution to inform the key European capitals and members of the UN Security Council about the cooperation of individual states, and thus form political assessments of the conditions in those countries. The second mechanism was subordinate to the first one. Without the positive opinion of the court, the decision-making on the opening of international monetary lines and aid to a single Western Balkan country was being halted, or at least seriously slowed down. Both of these things were understood on first place by two persons, Dr. Ivo Sanader and Zoran Đinđić, the first president of the Croatian, and the second president of the Serbian government. If Đinđić had not been killed, the Republic of Serbia would already have been a member state of the European Union, and if Sanader had not been an unscrupulous leader, who was able to make decisions, Croatia would probably still have waited, along with other countries of the region, on a full membership of the European Union.
Del Ponte repeated her assessment that Ratko Mladić was the most responsible for the bloodiest crimes committed in the Yugoslav wars after the death of Slobodan Milošević. Before her demands to bring him to the Hague trial, Mladić was being hidden at the beginning. However, at the beginning of 2010, there was a turning point. They also searched the Belgrade apartment of his wife and discovered in one of the hidden places in the house 18 carefully guided diaries, 3500 pages of Mladić’s notes on his meetings, dialogues and encounters. The first volume had December 30, 1991 as the beginning date, and the last one ended on 28 November 1996. However, the most important among them, the volume written between January 28 and July 14, 1995, at the time of the genocide in Srebrenica, was missing.
The documents became a significant part of prosecutorial files and Mladić’s charges of genocide in Srebrenica, shelling and siege of Sarajevo, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws of warfare, planning, incitement and ordering for the most serious crimes. A part of the evidence related primarily to the political background of the bloody wars in B&H and also Mladić’s crimes committed in Croatia, was just mentioned by the court.
On Wednesday, November 22, 2017, Mladić was sentenced to the highest possible sentence, life imprisonment. The court pronounced the only possible verdict.
And with that verdict, the Hague Tribunal again referred to Mladić’s diaries, especially the parts written between October 1992 and February 1994, which record the meetings of the Bosnian Serbs’ political and military leadership with the Bosnian Croats’ political and military leadership. Specifically, the prosecutor assessed that these were “secret negotiations between the leadership of Croatia and Herceg Bosnia with the highest representatives of Serbia and Republika Srpska on the other side.”

Two meetings were probably the most significant for the Hague tribunal, with the already known high political meetings of representatives of both countries. The first, held on October 5, 1992, in the Hungarian town of Pecuj, where Croatian General Slobodan Praljak pointed out that their goal is to restore the Banovina of Croatia from 1939, and that they would continue the war. The second meeting was held at the end of October of the same year in the Montenegrin coastal town of Njivice. Mladić re-records the opinion of Croatian interlocutors that “things are on the right way to convince Alija Izetbegovic to agree to the division of Bosnia, that Muslims get their canton and the place where they will emigrate.”

With the recognition of the credibility of Mladić’s diaries, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia opened the central issue of Yugoslav bloody wars, plans for Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia, together with agreements on the division of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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