Yugoslav ‘Red Beret’ Army Brigades Fought in Bosnia – Witness

Three brigades of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav Army took part in fighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and, like the special operations unit of Serbian state security, were known as 'Red Berets', a defence witness in the retrial of two top Serbian state security officials in The Hague said on Thursday.

Jovica Stanisic, the wartime head of the Serbian State Security Service, SDB, and Franko Simatovic, the former commander of the SDB's Special Operations Unit, are charged with participating in a joint criminal enterprise led by then Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to cleanse Croats and Bosniaks from swathes of Croatia and Bosnia to create an ethnically pure Serb state.

The indictment accuses them of organising the formation of special state security units and other forces to fight in Croatia and Bosnia between 1991 and 1995.

On Thursday, defence witness Dejan Plahuta said he was a contract soldier in the Yugoslav Army from the autumn of 1992 until the autumn of 1994, tasked with watching the border line between Serbia and Bosnia on the right bank of the River Drina near Bajina Basta in western Serbia.

He told the court - the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, which is trying unfinished cases left over from the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia - that in the winter of 1993 three Yugoslav Army brigades were deployed to eastern Bosnia "to protect the Serbian population", "liberate territory that had been occupied" by forces under Bosnian commander Naser Oric and establish a line of defence further away from the border.

Asked by defence lawyer Mihajlo Bakrac whether those brigades had some kind of unified name or title at the time, Plahuta said they did; besides being known as special bridges...

Continue reading on: