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Carl Savich | Columns | serbianna.com Celebici
By Carl Savich

Introduction: War Crimes in Bosnia

In May, 1992, Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces attacked and occupied Bosnian Serb villages around the Konjic municipality in central Bosnia-Hercegovina. The Muslim and Croat forces began rounding up and expelling the Bosnian Serb residents, a policy that came to be known as ethnic cleansing. Serbian villages and towns were burned down and destroyed and Bosnian Serb civilians were massacred. The Bosnian Serb civilians who survived, men, women, and children, were herded into collection or detention centers. Many of the Serbian women and children were confined in a local school. Approximately 400 men and some women were taken to the former JNA (Jugoslovenska Narodna Armija, Yugoslav National Army) military base in the town of Celebici, where the Muslim and Croat forces set up the Celebici camp.

The Celebici camp was set up in a former fuel storage depot of the JNA and was surrounded by barbed wire and mine fields. Bosnian Serb civilians were sent to the camp after ethnic cleansing sweeps were conducted by Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces. Bosnian Muslim and Croat military forces took over the former Yugoslav federal military facility immediately after the outbreak of the civil war.

The Celebici Camp

On April 22, 1992, the Bosnian Muslim and Croat authorities issued orders to Serbs in Celebici to leave their homes and villages within two hours. Those who refused to obey the order were arrested and sent to the Grude camp which was Croat-run. Muslims then moved into the homes of the evicted Serbs.

Celebici, a village 45 miles southwest of Sarajevo in central Bosnia-Hercegovina, was part of the Konjic municipality, which had a population of 45,000. In the 1991 census, Bosnian Serbs made up approximately 18% of the Konjic population, but were the majority in the adjoining villages of Dubrevice, Pula, Zagorica, Cerici, Borci, Blace, Bjelovcina, Bradina, Cicovo, Donje Selo, and Sitnik.

On April 18, 1992, Croatian regular army troops based in Split, Croatia, crossed the borders of Bosnia-Hercegovina and occupied the Konjic region. The Bosnian Muslim and Croat faction had declared Bosnia independent on March 3, 1992. On April 6, 1992, the EU recognized the independence of Bosnia. On May 22, 1992, Bosnia was admitted to the UN. But then why did Croatian regular army troops cross the internationally recognized borders of Bosnia and violate the sovereignty of the new state? As an EU and US client state, Croatia escaped censure and even notice. The US and the EU pretended that Croatia had no troops in Bosnia even though everyone else could see this was propaganda nonsense. The US government and media covered-up the invasion and occupation of Bosnia by Croatian regular army troops. This was one of the major cover-ups of the Bosnian civil war.

On May 15, Croat and Bosnian Muslim forces attacked Serbian villages in the Konjic area. Blace and Ozepi were attacked and burned. On May 21, Bjelovcina, Cerici, and Donje Selo were attacked. Donje Selo was turned into a camp for the detention and confinement of Bosnian Serb women and children. The Serbian women were raped, tortured, and beaten regularly at this camp.

The Bosnian Muslims and Croats established the Musala detention camp in Konjic for Bosnian Serb civilians, where on June 15, 1992, 15 Serbian inmates were killed.

A former JNA military base, the Celebici camp had a building near the entrance that housed the administrative offices of the camp. Within the compound there were several buildings and 5-6 hangars. Behind the command building there was “the tunnel”, a concrete corridor called No. 9 that led to the shelter.

The Celebici camp and its personnel were under the authority of Bosnian Muslim military commander Zejnil Delalic, who coordinated activities between the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat forces from April, 1992 to September 1992 when the Muslims and Croats were allied against the Bosnian Serbs. From June 1992 to November 1992, Delalic was the commander of the First Tactical Group of the Bosnian Muslim forces. He was a prominent military figure in the Bosnian Muslim armed forces.

The commander of the Celebici camp was Bosnian Croat Zdravko Mucic, known as “Pavo”. Mucic commanded the camp from May 1992 to November 1992. He was arrested in Vienna on March 18, 1996 and indicted on March 21.

The deputy commander from May 1992 to November 1992 was Bosnian Muslim Hazim Delic.

Delic replaced Mucic as commander in November, holding that post until the camp was closed in December, 1992. He was an early SDA party activist in Konjic. He sold cassettes with Muslim songs and prayers and stocked the Koran. He wore a green beret with the star and crescent of Islam emblazoned on it. According to witness 283/94, he attended training in Turkey. He was a radical Muslim nationalist who boasted in front of the inmates that he had raped 60-120 Serbian women. He was arrested on December 1, 1992.

Bosnian Muslim Esad Landzo, known as “Zenga”, was a guard at the camp from May to December, 1992.

The preferred method of murder at the Celebici camp was by beating the elderly Serbian inmates to death. A baseball bat, rifle butt, and wooden plank were used by the Bosnian Muslim camp guards. In the latter part of May, 1992, Petko Gligorevic and Gojko Miljanic were beaten to death. Miroslav Vujicic was shot and killed on May 27. In all, 18 Serbs are reported to have been killed at the camp.

In June, 1992, Bosnian Serb Scep Gotovac, aged between 60 and 70, was severely beaten. An SDA badge was then nailed to his forehead, The SDA, Stranka Demokratska Akcija (Party of Democratic Action), is the militant ultra-nationalist Islamist political party headed by Alija Izetbegovic since 1990. Gotovac died from his injuries soon after.

In July 1992 Bosnian Serb Zeljko Milosevic was repeatedly and severely beaten by camp guards for several days. On July 20, Hazim Delic selected Milosevic when he was brought outside and beaten by Delic and other guards. By the next day, Milosevic had died from his injuries, beaten to death.

In front of the detention facility, in July, Hazim Delic and Esad Landzo severely beat Bosnian Serb camp prisoner/inmate Simo Jovanovic over an extended period of time.  Jovanovic was then returned to the detention facility. Denied medical treatment, he died almost immediately from his injuries.

Esad Landzo beat several Bosnian Serbs from the town of Bradina in July. Landzo struck Bosnian Serb Bosko Samoukovic, who was approximately 60 years old, repeatedly with a wooden plank. Samoukovic was beaten unconscious, after which time he was taken outside the detention facility where he soon died from his injuries.

Esad Landzo periodically would enter the detention facility to select a Serbian civilian, who would then be beaten to death. In July, he selected an elderly Serbian detainee with the surname Miljanic, aged between 60 and 70 years. Landzo then used a baseball bat to beat Miljanic to death.

In the latter part of July or early August, Esad Landzo and Hazim Delic selected Bosnian Serb Slavko Susic, who was severely beaten on repeated occasions. Susic was beaten with a baseball bat and a piece of cable. He was also tortured and beaten with pliers, nails, and fuses. Susic was subjected to torture and mistreatment for several days by Landzo, Delic, and others at the camp. He died from his injuries.

One of the Bosnian Muslim war crimes committed at the Celebici camp in June 1992 demonstrated the religious fervor that motivated the Bosnian Muslim commanders and guards. Bosnian Serb Milorad Kuljanin was selected and shot by Bosnian Muslim guards at the camp, “one of whom said they wished a sacrifice for the Muslim festival of Bairaim (sic)” according to the ICTY indictment. Bairam or Bayram, derived in Bosnia from Turkish Sunni Islam, is one of the most important days in the Islamic calendar, which commemorates the haj pilgrimage to Mecca and the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son to god. In Turkey, the ritual sacrifice of a goat or camel is made. There is the Ramazan Bayrami which celebrates the end of Ramadan and Kurban Bayrami, which is the Feast of the Sacrifice. Kuban Bayrami or Qurban Bayram (Ed al-Adha or Eid ul-Kabir) is known as the Great Feast or Festival, “The Festival of Sacrifice”. A witness reported that a guard at the camp told the inmates that at least 10 Serbs would be slaughtered for “Kurban Bairam”.  Zeljko Cecez was killed on July 25 or 26, the first day of the Kurban Bairam. Cecez was shot three times in the face and neck at close range with a rifle by Bosnian Muslim guard Esad Macic, Eso, known as “Makaron”. A witness stated that his skull was struck and his brain splattered on the ground and on the clothes of the witness.

Bosnian Serb inmates were forced to repeat the phrase “Allahu akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”, an Islamic religious prayer invocation) and the phrase “Ready for the Fatherland!”

A witness noted that the Bosnian Muslim commanders and guards would order the deprivation of food as “punishment” and “revenge” during Orthodox holidays. On Serbian Orthodox Christian holidays---St. Vitus’ Day, St. Peter’s Day, and St. Elia’s Day---the Bosnian Serb inmates would not be given any food.

Starvation was used against the inmates as a form of punishment. Many of the inmates became emaciated and ill due to the inadequate supply of food. Water was also withheld from the detainees. Many inmates suffered from dehydration due to the lack of drinking water.

Religious hate crimes were perpetrated against Bosnian Serb inmates by Bosnian Muslim guards. Delic and Landzo burned a cross on the hand of Bosnian Serb Momir Kuljanin. These acts clearly depict Islamic religious intolerance of and contempt for Serbian Orthodox Christianity. US war propaganda erroneously depicted Bosnian Islam as “secular” and “tolerant” and “multi-ethnic”. The SDA party, however, was a radically militant and nationalist Islamic party based in Islam. The SDA ruling party was a Muslim party created for Muslims. US and EU propaganda obscured this obvious fact.

Serbian inmates were hit with bars, baseball and other bats, rifle butts, and hoe handles. Slobodan Babic was struck with a rifle butt that penetrated into the brain. He was in a coma and died four days after his injuries in June. Zeljko Cecez was beaten to death in June or July. Pero Mrkajic was beaten to death in July. Zeljko Klimenta was shot and killed the same month.

From May 25 to early September, Landzo and Delic and other camp guards repeatedly and severely beat Bosnian Serb Momir Kuljanin. In addition to having a cross burned on his hand, he was kicked into unconsciousness, hit with a shovel, was suffocated, and had a corrosive powder placed on his body. Another witness reported that he was hit in the kidneys, on the back, the muscles of his legs, and testicles. Witnesses reported that several of the guards who participated in the beatings and murders were ethnic Albanians (Shqiptari) from Yugoslavia, one being named “Pajazit” and another “Sok”.

The US media covered up the fact that the Bosnian Muslim forces used rape as an instrument of war. The war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslim troops at the Celebici camp, however, demonstrate that Muslims committed rape against Bosnian Serb inmates during the civil war. From May 27 to August, Bosnian Muslim Hazim Delic and others repeatedly raped Bosnian Serb inmate Grozdana Cecez who was “subjected…to repeated incidents of forcible sexual intercourse.” In one instance, she was raped in the presence of other persons. In another instance, Cecez was raped by three different persons in one night.

From June 15 to early August, Hazim Delic subjected one detainee identified as Witness A, to repeated incidents of forcible sexual intercourse, including both vaginal and anal intercourse. Delic raped Witness A during her first interrogation and for the following six weeks. Witness A was periodically raped every few days.

The Muslim camp guards engaged in torture against the Serbian inmates at the Celebici camp. From June 15 to August, Delic and Landzo and others at the Bosnian Muslim/Croat-run camp subjected Bosnian Serb inmate Spasoje Miljevic to inhumane treatment. They placed a mask over his face to suffocate him on one occasion. He had a heated knife placed against parts of his body. He was forced to eat grass and was severely beaten with fists and kicked and struck with a metal chain and a wooden object. He had a Fleur de Lis carved on his palm.

The Fleur de Lis (French, “flower of lily”) was the national symbol on the Bosnian Muslim flag the Bosnian Muslim faction concocted as the national flag of Bosnia-Hercegovina. It was a meaningless symbol meant to camouflage the fact that the Bosnian Muslim faction sought to establish a militant Islamic national state in Bosnia, Muslim Bosnia. The Fleur de Lis was a medieval heraldic Bosnian national symbol of the Bosnian Kotromanic dynasty before the Muslim invasion, conquest, and occupation of Bosnia by the Ottoman Turks in 1463. It had no national significance for the Bosnian Muslims, Croats, or Serbs. But it did signify that the Bosnian Muslim faction was asserting that it was the rightful successor to the pre-Muslim history of Bosnia. But why are the Bosnian Muslim Slavs the rightful successors to the medieval Bosnian state? The medieval Bosnian statelet was created by King Tvrtko Kotromanic who was crowned King of the Serbs and Bosnia in 1377 in a ceremony in the Milesevo Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Rashka. His title was The King of the Serbs and Bosnia. It was the Muslim Turkish conquest in 1463 that destroyed the Bosnian state and turned Bosnia into a province of Turkey. By what logic are the Bosnian Muslim Slavs, successors to the Ottoman Turks, the inheritors of the Kotromanic legacy of Bosnia? This perversion and manipulation of history boggles the mind.

Unlike the national flag of South Africa, for instance, which incorporated symbols of all the factions in the country, Bosnian national symbols were exclusively manufactured by the Bosnian Muslim faction and which reflected a Bosnian Muslim goal to create an exclusively Islamic state. Bosnian passports issued by the Bosnian Muslim faction were green in color, for example, green being the symbolic color of Islam. The Bosnian Muslim faction also began re-inserting archaic Turkish words and phrases from the Ottoman period into the newly created “Bosnian language”, which was another tip-off that a “multi-ethnic” Bosnia was never the goal of the SDA. Just the name of the leader of the Bosnian Muslim faction, Alija Izetbegovic, revealed volumes for those not deluded by US and EU war propaganda. “Izzet” is the Turkish word that means “mighty” and “glorious” and “bey” or “beg” is the Turkish word that means “feudal lord”, or in the US context, “slave master”. So, to Bosnian Serb ears, their new “multi-ethnic” and “democratic” and “pluralistic” leader had a name which meant “mighty slave master”. And indeed, Izetbegovic came from a family of wealthy feudal landlords who ruled over their subhuman Serb “rayah” or serfs during the Ottoman Empire. The SDA in many respects sought to re-impose the Ottoman hierarchy in Bosnia. This is what Egyptian United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali meant when he dismissed the Bosnian civil war as “a rich man’s war”.

From June to August, Landzo beat Mirko Dordic with a baseball bat, put hot metal pincers on his tongue and in his ear, and forced him to do push-ups while he was beaten.

Mirko Babic was mistreated in July when Landzo and Delic and others put a mask on his head and he was beaten with blunt objects until he lost consciousness. Landzo burned the leg of Babic on another occasion. Another Serbian inmate at the camp, Milovan Kuljanin, was subjected to acts of torture by being placed in a manhole for several days deprived of any food or water.

Bosnian Muslim and Croat camp guards caused “great suffering” or “serious injury” to Bosnian Serb inmates at Celebici according to the ICTY indictment. From June to August, Landzo and others inflicted great suffering and serious injury to Bosnian Serb prisoner Nedeljko Draganic. Draganic was beaten with a baseball bat. He was tied to a roof beam and then beaten. Gasoline was poured on his pants which were then set on fire. He suffered burns to his legs. Two other prisoners, Mirko Kuljanin and Dragan Kuljanin, were severely beaten. Vukasin Mrkajic and Dusko Bendo had a burning fuse cord placed on their genitals and genital areas.

On December 1, Miroslav Bozic was selected and severely beaten by the camp guards. Hazim Delic, who was then the commander of the Celebici detention camp, accused Bozic of belonging to an enemy military unit. Bozic was beaten for half an hour. Delic then had him brought back from his cell and beaten against a wall again for ten minutes.

Delic was also charged with committing “inhumane acts” which involved the use of an electrical device/cattle prod. From May 30 to September, Delic used an electrical device that emitted electrical current formerly used as a cattle prod to shock and to inflict pain on Serbian detainees at the camp, which included Novica Dordic and Milenko Kuljanin. Serbian inmates at the camp, two brothers, were also forced to “commit fellatio with each other”. A Bosnian Serb father and his son were forced to slap each other repeatedly.

One inmate had his ear cut off according to witness statements. According to witness testimony, the inmates were subjected to mock executions. They were forced to drink and lie in urine.

Inhumane conditions were created at the Celebici camp according to the indictment. From May to October, 1992, the Bosnian Serb detainees at the Celebici camp were subjected to “an atmosphere of terror” because of the murders and abuse of other detainees. The detainees were subjected to inhumane living conditions because they lacked adequate food, water, and medical care, sleeping, and toilet facilities. According to the Hague indictment for war crimes, “these conditions caused the detainees to suffer severe psychological and physical trauma.”

The defendants were charged with the “unlawful confinement of civilians” under Article 2(g)(unlawful confinement of civilians) of the Statute of the Tribunal because Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces confined Bosnian Serb civilians at the Celebici detention camp. The Bosnian Serb inmates at the Celebici camp were not combatants in the conflict. They were rounded up and interned at the camp solely because they were Orthodox Serbs, solely due to their ethnicity and religion. They were imprisoned at Celebici because they were Serbs. Their only crime was that they were Serbs.

The defendants were also charged with the plunder of private property in violation of the laws and customs of war. Zdravko Mucic and Hazim Delic plundered the Bosnian Serb prisoners at Celebici of money, watches, gold, jewelry, and other valuables they possessed.

Alija Izetbegovic is reported to have visited the camp at the end of July, 1992 which proves he had knowledge of the existence of the camp and what was occurring inside of it. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, Izetbegovic should have been indicted for war crimes. The war crimes committed at Celebici were under his authority. The ICTY admitted that Izetbegovic was indeed being “investigated” for committing war crimes but that the case was closed following his death. Of course, Izetbegovic was the client and proxy for the US and EU. He acted according to the instructions and directives from the US and EU leaders. He is a NATO proxy. Why would NATO and the US indict their own proxy? The US and the NATO countries made the political decision that their proxy would be immune from prosecution at The Hague for war crimes.

A TV crew from an Arabic country was allowed to film at the camp according to Witness 100/94. He reported that Delic beat the Bosnian Serb inmates and told the reporter: “A good Serb is only a dead Serb, and three meters under the ground at that.” The inmates were filmed being beaten. Zeljko Milosevic from Ovcari was forced to state while being filmed that he had raped Muslim women. Milosevic refused. The portrayal of the Bosnian Muslims as victims was crucial to their propaganda campaign not only in the US and the NATO countries, but also in Arab and Muslim countries. The Bosnian Muslim war propaganda relied almost exclusively on their alleged victimization and genocide. To radical Muslim and Arab states, the Bosnian Muslim propaganda sought to convince them that Bosnian Islam was militant and that Bosnian Muslims were dedicated and committed Muslims striving to protect their Islamic identity then under attack.

The news of the Celebici camp leaked out to the mainstream media and could not be suppressed through media censorship. The US government was even forced to acknowledge the existence of the camp and to admit that war crimes were committed against Bosnian Serbs by Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Richard Boucher of the US State Department, in a Report of January 26, 1993, stated that “a 44 year-old Serb civilian, who was in prison at Celebici from May 30, 1992 witnessed Muslim guards and the deputy camp commander Hazim Delic…beat 15 or 16 Serbs to death.”

The United Nations was provided documentation of the war crimes committed at the Celebici camp. The Yugoslav government submitted a report on cases of violations of international war and humanitarian law to the UN pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 of October 5, 1992, which detailed many of the war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslim and Croat forces against Bosnian Serb civilians.

The Celebici camp was dismantled at the end of December, 1992 and the Serb inmates were sent to the Musala camp in Konjic.

Bosnian Muslim and Croat Detention Camps

There were other Bosnian Muslim and Croat detention camps in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The US media did not cover them. Penny Marshall and ITN did not seek them out. There was the Tarcin Silo Camp the Bosnian Muslims set up at the wheat silo in Tarcin in the Hadzici municipality outside of Sarajevo. A camp at Krupa-Pazarici was also set up. Bosnian Serb males were imprisoned there aged 17 to 70. By June, 1992, approximately 800 Serbs were held in these two camps.

A detention camp was established in Livno, in the Old Town facility, which held 950 Serbian inmates.

In Bradina, 3,000 prisoners were held in the tunnel.

The camp at Tomislavgrad in the Rascani village held 1,000 prisoners.

In Odzak, 1,000 persons, mostly women and children, were held in the Novi Grad village and the Famos football stadium.

In Tuzla, 4,000 Serbs were held in the Tusanj stadium.

In Sarajevo, 500 Serbs were held at the Zetra camp where 300 Serbs were murdered. The commander of the Zetra camp was Safet Isovic, a member of the Assembly in the Bosnian Muslim “government”. The Viktor Bubanj facility in Sarajevo, a former JNA military base, where Serbs were murdered, had 20 mujahedeen guards.

In the Dretelj village facility in Capljina, mercenaries from the US, UK, Germany, France, and Italy helped to run the camp and abused Serbian prisoners.

In civil wars, factions establish areas of control by mutually expelling those not on their side. Homogenous ethnic and factional zones and areas are created as the factions conglomerate into homogenous zones or sectors. This was true in the civil war in Cyprus where the country was divided into Greek and Turkish zones. There was a homogenous Greek area and a homogenous Turkish area whereas before the civil war there were mixed communities. The civil war in Lebanon resulted in the same divisions and expulsions and a conglomeration of rival populations based on homogenous sectors under factional control. This same process occurred in Bosnia with the three ethnic and religious factions seeking to create ethnically homogenous regions where they would be under the control of the dominant faction. All three groups were guilty of committing so-called ethnic cleansing. But US media and government propaganda sought to focus only on the Bosnian Serbs and ignore the ethnic cleansing committed by Croats and Bosnian Muslims and ethnic Albanians. Ethnic cleansing committed against Bosnian Serbs was suppressed by the US government and media. In Mostar, 20,000 Serbs were ethnically cleansed from the town, leaving only 1,000 by 1993. In Bihac, 7,000 Serbs were cleansed. By 1993, 500 Serbs remained. In Duvno, 1,000 Serbs were cleansed, 400 remaining by 1993 in camps.
 
The Celebici Trial

The Celebici Trial of the “The Celebici Four”, Zejnil Delalic, Zdravko Mucic, Hazim Delic, Esad Landzo, opened on March 10, 1997. It was the first collective trial for war crimes before an international tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. The defendants were charged with committing grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws and customs of war, war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs victims. On April 14, 1997, the Prosecutor moved to withdraw two counts against Esad Landzo regarding the beating death with a baseball bat of one alleged Bosnian Serb victim because the charge was “based on erroneous information from witness confusion concerning the victim’s identity.”

On November 16, 1998, Trial Chamber 1 pronounced judgment in the Celebici case. It had been a 20 month trial, with the presentation of 691 exhibits, 122 witnesses, and 28,000 pages of court transcripts. It was the first case decided under the legal principle of superior responsibility. The defendant was found guilty based on responsibility for acts of persons who committed crimes while under his command or authority.

Hazim Delic, the deputy commander of the Celebici camp, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment after being found guilty on 13 counts of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and violations of the laws and customs of war, including multiple counts of rape and torture. He was found not guilty on the command responsibility charge. The Prosecutor had requested a life sentence in this case.

Esad Landzo, the Bosnian Muslim guard at the camp, was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. The court dismissed the argument that Landzo was “the mere instrument of his superiors” because the “nature of his crimes is suggestive of significant imagination and a perverse pleasure in the infliction of pain and suffering.”

Zdravko Mucic, the Bosnian Croat commander of the camp, received a 7-year sentence for each of the 11 counts. The court found that he was “clearly derelict in duty and allowed those under his authority to commit the most heinous offenses, without taking any disciplinary action.”

Zejnil Delalic, the Bosnian Muslim military officer in command of the camp and a high-ranking figure in the military forces of the Bosnian Muslim government, was acquitted because the court found there was insufficient evidence to establish criminal responsibility. The Prosecutor filed an appeal.

The case was referred to as “the forgotten trial”. The case received scant media coverage in the US and NATO countries. According to the defendants, Nigerian presiding judge Adolphus Karibi-Whyte “was asleep during substantial portions of the trial”, even snoring on some occasions. The defendants based their appeal in 2001on this allegation.

In 2001, the convictions and sentences were upheld on appeal.

In April, 2003, the sentences were again upheld by Judge Theodor Meron.

Conclusion: A Political Trial?

Why was the Celebici case prosecuted at the Hague Tribunal? The ICTY needed a token show trial to demonstrate that it was not biased against the Serbs. The Celebici case was the obvious choice. It was the most documented case. Richard Boucher of the US State Department had even acknowledged that it had existed and war crimes were committed there. The camp was notorious and the information and knowledge of war crimes committed there could not be suppressed. So the Celebici case served a useful function. The ICTY acknowledged that the Bosnian Muslim and Croat factions had committed war crimes against Bosnian Serbs, but at the same time limited the scope of criminal liability of the Bosnian Muslim political and military leadership. The highest ranking defendant in the Celebici case, Zejnil Delalic, a high ranking Bosnian Muslim military commander, was acquitted. Why? Under the principle of command responsibility, Delalic was guilty of war crimes. A political decision was made. The US and the NATO countries made the political decision that no criminal liability would attach to the Bosnian Muslim political and military leadership. This is why Delalic was acquitted. Horrendous war crimes were committed at Celebici. Someone had to answer for them. Hazim Delic, Zdravko Mucic, and Esad Landzo were held criminally responsible, but their leaders, those who gave the orders, were immune from prosecution.

At the start of the civil war in 1992, the Bosnian Muslim government had established three major detention camps: Konjic, Celebici, and Tarcin. Izetbegovic visited the Tarcin camp according to inmate Slavko Jovicic, Slavuj, who recognized him. There are reports that he visited the Konjic camp and the Celebici camp on two occasions. Why was Izetbegovic not indicted for war crimes under the doctrine of command responsibility? The ICTY has officially acknowledged that Izetbegovic was investigated for war crimes. The ICTY closed the case on Izetbegovic after his death. The reason Izetbegovic was not indicted for war crimes was because the US and the NATO countries mandated that he not be so indicted and tried. Izetbegovic was told by former US ambassador to Yugoslavia Warren Zimmermann to make no compromise agreements with the Bosnian Serb faction. The EU recognized Bosnia unconditionally before any agreements could be reached by the three factions in Bosnia, the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats. Izetbegovic was in effect the proxy and client of the US and EU and the NATO countries. By indicting him for war crimes, the US/EU/NATO would be in effect indicting themselves, conceding that they made an egregious diplomatic and political blunder that cost the lives of thousands of people. Obviously, the US/EU/NATO would not do this. The end result was that Izetbegovic and the Bosnian Muslim political and military leadership was immune from criminal liability or guilt.

Delalic was acquitted because he was too high up in the Bosnian Muslim military hierarchy and because his conviction would implicate Izetbegovic and other Bosnian Muslim leaders. Delalic engaged in the brutal attack on Bradina, a Serbian majority town 25 miles south of Sarajevo, and was promoted to colonel by Izetbegovic after that attack. In the Bradina attack, the male inhabitants were massacred and the women and children kept in the tunnel. In World War II, the Bosnian Serb population of the Konjic region was systematically murdered. This World War II genocide against the Bosnian Serb population was one reason why the Serbian population decreased while the Bosnian Muslim and Croat populations increased. Bradina was famous as the birthplace of Croat Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic, who was himself a “Bosnian” by birth.

The US media became aware of this act of ethnic cleansing against the Bosnian Serb population in the Konjic, Bradina, and Celebici region. On June 4, 1992, John Burns reported in the New York Times in the story “Victims and Criminals on All Sides” that “…some groups of Muslims and Croats …are using the tactic of ethnic cleansing of Serbs…” The UN Security Council was forced to take note of the massacres as well. UN Secretary General from Egypt Boutros Boutros Ghali submitted a report about the massacre. The report of the Bradina massacre was, however, received two days after the UN Security Council had voted to impose sanctions on Yugoslavia.

Celebici was the only case before the Tribunal of crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs. In 2003, however, Naser Oric, the Bosnian Muslim military commander in Srebrenica was arrested by NATO forces in Tuzla and extradited to the Hague Tribunal where he was indicted for war crimes in Case No: IT-03-68-1. The arrest and indictment of Naser Oric will reveal the real nature of the Bosnian civil war and the events surrounding the capture of Srebrenica in 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces, suppressed until now by the US government and media.

Oric is alleged to have ordered the mass murder of hundreds of Bosnian Serb civilians around Srebrenica. Under his command, Bosnian Muslim troops and irregulars murdered Bosnian Serb civilians and burned down and destroyed 50 Serbian villages in the Srebrenica municipality according to the Hague indictment. What was not mentioned in The Hague indictment was the fact that US military transport aircraft based in Germany were dropping food packets to Oric’s troops while they were engaged in this offensive.  Troops under his command committed atrocities, such as torture, beheadings, mutilation of bodies, circumcisions, burning victims alive.

Naser Oric, however, is ignored by the mainstream US media. He is dismissed as a “warlord” and “militia leader”. But this is a typical subtle example of US government and media propaganda. The brainwashing technique is sophisticated. The US propagandist seeks to negate culpability here by obscuring the obvious fact that Naser Oric is a top and high ranking Bosnian Muslim military official appointed by the Bosnian Muslim government under Alija Izetbegovic. This is a bit of propaganda legerdemain by the US information technologist. Information technology is a science.

Naser Oric is in fact a Bosnian Muslim military commander acting under the direct authority of Alija Izetbegovic. He is acting under the command authority of Alija Izetbegovic. Oric, a former police officer, was officially confirmed on June 27, 1992, as the commander of the Srebrenica Territorial Defense (TO) HQ by Sefer Halilovic, Chief of the Supreme Command Staff of the Army of Bosnia and Hercegovina. On August 8, 1992, his appointment was reconfirmed by the Presidency of Bosnia. On January 1, 1994, Oric was promoted to Brigadier. On March 1, 1994, he was awarded the “Golden Lily”, the highest military honor the Bosnian government could bestow. At all times, he had de jure and de facto control of the Bosnian military forces in Srebrenica. This is what US government and media propaganda sought to cover up.

The Celebici case is based on a political decision made by the US and the NATO countries to limit criminal liability and culpability in the Bosnian civil war. The political and military leadership of the Bosnian Muslim faction is immune to criminal prosecution for war crimes. This is why Alija Izetbegovic and the other Bosnian Muslim leaders were not indicted for war crimes. This is the reason why Zenjil Delalic was acquitted by the ICTY court. This political decision reflects the fact that Alija Izetbegovic and the Bosnian Muslim leadership were proxies of the US and the NATO countries, fighting a war against the Serbs on behalf of the US and NATO. None of this comes as a surprise to anyone.

The Celebici case is meant, moreover, to maintain the characterization of Yugoslavia as the “aggressor” in the Bosnian civil war and the Bosnian Muslims as the victims of aggression by an outside country. The sequence of events during the war, however, disproves this contention. The Celibici camp opened on May 21, 1992. The JNA had withdrawn from the Konjic region on May 5, 1992.

The Celebici case was purposely limited in its scope. Witnesses were told to limit testimony to the Celebici camp and not to make statements that would implicate the Bosnian Muslim political or military leadership. Witnesses could not testify, for example, that they saw trucks marked as International Red Cross and Red Crescent delivering weapons to Muslim forces. Such evidence would incriminate the Bosnian Muslim leaders and the US and NATO which had sponsored them to fight a proxy war. Any such discussion was “irrelevant” according to the Hague Tribunal. The Tribunal maintained that there was no Croat Army involvement in Bosnia. Command responsibility was limited as much as possible to small fry, not the big shots. The case was meant to appease Serbian opinion but prevent or preclude the indictment of Alija Izetbegovic for war crimes. It was meant to show that the ICTY is not biased against the Serbs. But it had the opposite effect, demonstrating conclusively that the ICTY is a political court set up by the US and NATO. The Celebici case did prove, however, that there were “victims and criminals on all sides” in the Bosnian civil war.


Carl Savich
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