Milenko Krstic – Helping to get the work done
On 16 July 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Vujadin Popovic, chief of of the Drina Corps of the Army of Republika Srpska, requested 500 liters of diesel fuel from the Zvornik Brigade. According to intercepted telephone conversations, unless the diesel was delivered ‘’the work he is doing will stop’’. Just a few days before, the Bosnia Serb Army had overrun the UN ‘Safe Area’ of Srebrenica, rounded up more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys and systematically executed them. The prisoners were taken to locations around Srebrenica where they were shot and buried in mass graves. The buses used to transport the men, the buses used to deport the women and children and the bulldozers used to dig the mass graves all needed a lot of fuel.
Colonel Popovic’s urgent appeal was rapidly dealt with. Captain S. Milosevic issued an order to supply Popovic with the fuel. The person responsible for overseeing the delivery of the fuel to Colonel Popovic was Milenko Krstic, the Zvornik Brigade member who signed the dispatch note – the “material list for dispatch”. This dispatch note was used in the ‘Krstic’ and ‘Popovic’ trials at The Hague Tribunal. Luckily for Popovic, the fuel was delivered quickly and he was able to proceed with his ‘work’ in the village of Pilica.
And that work certainly did not stop: hundreds of Bosnian Muslims were blindfolded, had their hands tied, were executed, and then were dumped into mass graves. The Pilica cultural center where the men were held riddled with bullet holes and the walls covered with blood. The buses that brought the victims to the execution sites and the bulldozers that dug the mass graves could not have done the job without the fuel supplied by the Zvornik Brigade and signed out by Milenko Krstic. On 10 June 2010 Vujadin Popović was found guilty of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Milenko Krstic was located in Oregon, United States, in 2005. An investigating officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agent Weimann, visited Krstic and confronted him with the fuel receipt he had signed on 17 July 1995. According to an article published by The Oregonian, Krstic signed many documents crossing his desk at brigade headquarters. He recognized his signature on the diesel receipt, but it didn’t specify what the fuel had been used for and he didn’t know*.’’ He did not know why a Bosnian Serb Army Colonel would need 500 liters of diesel in a remote village several kilometers from Zvornik. Milenko Krstic was not the only person who did not know. Branko Bogicevic, the driver who delivered the diesel to Colonel Popovic, was another member of the Zvornik Brigade who did not know a lot either. Giving evidence at the trial of Popovic and co-defendants at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague, Bogicevic was unable to remember who had ordered him to take the fuel, where he collected it from and where exactly and to whom he was ordered to deliver it. An accurate memory doesn’t seem to be the strongpoint of former Zvornik Brigade members.
Krstic is not the only Serb living in the United States to have been arrested and prosecuted for giving false statements to Immigration officers about their service in the Bosnian Serb Army. Several dozen have been caught. A few have been deported to Bosnia, where they are currently on trial for their part in the Srebrenica genocide. The United States authorities checked the names of immigrants against the names of the Bosnian Serb Army members known to have participated in the Srebrenica Genocide and began arresting them one by one. They ranged from members of the infamous 10th Sabotage Detachment to individuals like Krstic working in the Zvornik Brigade headquarters. Krstic may not have taken part in any murders himself. But you don’t need to have been a direct perpetrator to be criminally responsible. Krstic knew what was happening in the fields around Srebrenica, he knew why Colonel Popovic needed the fuel and he supplied it to him. He is certainly not the peace activist he claims to be.
Krstic’s case has received more media coverage than any of the others because his daughter was Miss Oregon 2008 and took part in the Miss America competition in 2009. Interestingly enough, her Miss Oregon platform paid a lot of attention to suffering children and expressed the opinion that “all children deserve a chance for a happy and healthy future”.
Thanks to her father, many Bosnian Muslim children were denied that chance.
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