War criminal heads RS justice committee
‘In order to resolve the situation, Colonel Miroslav Deronjić (Karadžić’s civilian deputy for Srebrenica), Dragomir Vasić ( a member of the RS national assembly) and I met in the SDS office in Bratunac. At that meeting we talked openly about the killing operation, and all participants mentioned that they had reported to their superior officers’, Momir Nikolić stressed in his penitent testimony about the massacre of the people of Srebrenica.
Nikolić recalled Dragomir Vasić at several junctures in this unprecedented retrospective of horrors. What was omitted was the fact that Vasić at that time was the chief of the Zvornik police station, which covered the whole of the ‘death zone’, i.e. the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Zvornik. Vasić’s current status was also not fully described. He is in fact not only a deputy in the RS parliament, but also president of its legal-constitutional committee.
We have learnt from a source close to the Hague prisoners’ legal defence team that Vidoje Blagojević, Miroslav Deronjić, Dragan Obrenović and Dragan Jokić, whose trial for the crimes in Srebrenica began this week, do not understand why Dragomir Vasić is not among them. This is a source of surprise also for Dragan Vasiljević, who was arrested ten days ago in his home in Bijeljina by SFOR or someone acting on its behalf.
‘Why have they arrested Dragan, who was a small fish?’, Vasiljević’s friends ask, given that during the war he acted simply as the driver and bodyguard of Ljubomir Borovčanin, deputy commander of the special unit of the RS interior ministry. Borovčanin himself, on the other hand, is famous because, as the press reports, he together with his commander Goran Sarić and Zvornik’s police chief Dragomir Vasić were mainly responsible for the murder of around 1,000 Srebrenica civilians in Kozluk, and a similar number at the red-sludge lake near Đulić, in June 1995. This lake is in fact a depositary for the alkaline by-products and other dangerous substances released by the Zvornik Glinica [Clay] factory, which are capable of dissolving all matter, including a human body.
It was there soon after the tragedy that, in August 1995, the American journalist David Rhode was arrested when taking samples of the sludge. He was led to the place by a satellite picture showing the transport of the dead Srebrenica civilians, who after reaching this location disappeared. The American was arrested and imprisoned, but after a few weeks released under strong international pressure. Rhode wrote a book about this which won him a Pulitzer prize.
The journalist was followed and arrested on the orders of police chief Dragomir Vasić. It is interesting that at the start of the war Vasić moved his neighbours from Brnjica near Živinci to the Bosniak village of Đulić, which lies close to the above-mentioned depositary. Before this over seven hundred local Bosniaks aged between 15 and 70 were killed, in which Vasić also played a significant role.
The criminal nature of the current president of the legal-constitutional committee of the RS parliament is revealed also by the fact that in August 1995, after most of Srebrenica’s inhabitants had already been killed, he rewarded his most deserving policemen, i.e. men who had excelled at murder, by sending them on holiday to Herceg Novi on the Montenegrin coast. Dragomir Vasić continued to kill even after the war. In 1996, on the orders of RS interior minister Dragan Kijac, he led punitive expeditions against the first refugees returning to Mahala, Dugi Dio and Jusić, which involved inflicting severe wounds and even murder.
His record has not moved international bodies to prevent Vasić from becoming not just a parliamentary deputy, but also leader of the most important committee of the RS national assembly. It is interesting too that Vasić’s name does not seem to be included on the preliminary and informal list of those who would not be allowed to enter the EU. For this reason, and especially after Momir Nikolić’s testimony at The Hague, activists of the Society for Missing Persons of the Drina Municipalities are increasingly asking themselves: who is so keen to protect Dragomir Vasić and why? Is it possible that Paddy Ashdown and other international leading officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina have indeed fallen for the SDS’s election slogan that RS would ‘become European, but remain Serb’, and see the current head of its parliamentary committee for ‘law and justice’ as the person to achieve this miracle?
This article has been translated from Dani (Sarajevo), 16 May 2003