The Muslim-Croat Civil War in Central Bosnia: A Military History, 1992-1994

By Charles R. Shrader | Go to book overview

Sources

The materials used in the preparation of this study consist primarily of testimony and exhibits from the trials of Tihomir Blaskic, Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez, and others before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague from 1998–2001. The prosecutor presented most of the exhibits cited to the court. A smaller number of documents were presented as defense exhibits in the various trials. No exhibits presented in closed or private session have been used, and I have made every effort to verify that the trial chamber admitted a given document (thus making it a matter of public record) before using it here. The state of the finding aids available to me made this difficult at times, but verification was necessary because many of the documents—the very useful Military Information Summaries (MILINFOSUMs) prepared by British UNPROFOR units in central Bosnia, for example—were obtained from national governments that impose security classifications and time restrictions on the release of official documents, except insofar as they are entered into evidence in a public trial.

The reliability of documents presented as exhibits before the ICTY varies somewhat. Aside from the MILINFOSUMs and periodic reports prepared by UNPROFOR units and the European Community Monitoring Mission, which were provided directly by the British government and the European Community respectively, many of the HVO and ABiH documents presented at trial by the prosecutor were obtained from the Secret Intelligence Service of the Muslimdominated government of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. There is substantial reason to believe that not only was the process of identifying and turning over the documents selective, but that there was perhaps some tampering with documents in order to ensure that the ABiH’s actions were presented in the most favorable light and those of the HVO in the most unfavorable light. In fact, few ABiH documents of any kind were presented in either the Blaskic trial or the Kordic-Cerkez trial, thereby leaving a significant gap in our knowledge of ABiH plans and actions. By and large, the HVO documents presented at trial, whether by the prosecution or the defense, are contemporary with the events described and are, in my judgment, fairly reliable, particularly with regard to dates, times, and actions, insofar as they may be judged authentic. Some of the HVO documents presented in the Kordic-Cerkez trial were obtained from the Croatian government archives in Zagreb, and the government of BosniaHerzegovina supplied many others. Of course, one must always consider the possibility of tampering, so it is always useful to compare the contents of a given document with other contemporary sources whenever possible. One is also well advised to remember that not all orders were issued on paper and that some matters (or documents) may not have been openly recorded.

Even UNPROFOR and ECMM documents must be studied with some care. For the most part, UNPROFOR documents such as the MILINFOSUMs report events accurately and without obvious bias toward one side or the other in the conflict. However, UNPROFOR military units in central Bosnia were not always aware of what was happening and thus had a propensity to misinterpret some events. In general, UNPROFOR documents increased in reliability as time went on and the UNPROFOR units better understood what was happening around

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