Europe

Profile: Zdravko Tolimir, aide to Ratko Mladic

  • 11 December 2012
  • From the section Europe
Zdravko Tolimir in court at The Hague, 4 June 2007
Zdravko Tolimir is seen here in court at The Hague in June 2007

Zdravko Tolimir, a close aide to Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic during the Bosnian War, is accused of war crimes at the international tribunal at The Hague.

The former general was charged with genocide for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Conducting his own defence, Gen Tolimir described Srebrenica - in which 8,000 unarmed Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were slaughtered - as an operation "against terrorist groups".

He was put on trial at The Hague after being arrested in Bosnia in May 2007.

Intelligence role

During the 1992-95 war, Gen Tolimir was in charge of intelligence and security for the Bosnian Serb army and reported directly to Gen Mladic.

He was accused of knowingly participating in the forced expulsion of Bosniaks from the Srebrenica and Zepa enclave, in the knowledge that "individual killings would occur as a result of the joint criminal enterprise".

"It was his men... who were at the detention and execution and burial sites, making sure that murder operation did its evil work until the last bullet was fired and the last body buried," the prosecution said.

He was also accused of the cruel and inhumane treatment of Bosniak civilians who were detained at Bratunac and Zvornik, as well as the destruction and theft of Bosniak property.

The tribunal says Gen Tolimir helped disable UN troops during the Bosnian Serb attack on Srebrenica by lying to Unprofor, the UN contingent in Bosnia at the time.

However, Serbia's former ambassador to the UN, Pavle Jevremovic, has disputed the tribunal's account of Gen Tolimir's role.

He told the BBC that Gen Tolimir was "never considered to be a notorious sort of a character regarding the transgressions of international humanitarian law".

Post-war career

Gen Tolimir was born in November, 1948 in Glamoc, Bosnia-Hercegovina.

In 1993-96 he served as deputy commander for intelligence and security in the Bosnian Serb army.

After the signing of the Dayton peace accords he served as Bosnian military representative to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

From November 1996 to January 1997 he was an adviser to Biljana Plavsic, the former president of Republika Srpska. He then retired from the army.

In February 2005 the Hague tribunal indicted him for war crimes.

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