JANUARY 25, 1996
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Assistant Sec. of State John Shattuck was in the area over the weekend. Among the sites he inspected was the mass grave at Glogova and a building four miles away in Kravika, where as many as 2,000 Muslim men may have been murdered. Sec. Shattuck returned from Bosnia yesterday and joins us now. Secretary, thank you for joining us. Tell us what you saw when you visited those sites in Bosnia.
JOHN SHATTUCK, Assistant Secretary of State: Well, I traveled across the Drinja River from Belgrade into the area where reports of those who had survived mass execution attempts had been made to me back in July of last year when I was in Tuzla, and we went to see whether we could corroborate these reports, and we followed the route South towards Srebrenica, which is reverse from where the refugees were going. I had with me two investigators from the international war crimes tribunal, and I made a condition of my trip that we be allowed to go everywhere we wanted to go. We didn't announce to the authorities who escorted us in advance where we were going. We didn't give them any information until we went across the river. The first site we came to was a schoolhouse in a gymnasium which had been described by two survivors of mass executions as the place where they had been held. It was in a small village. There was very little evidence of any tampering of any kind with the schoolhouse. It was a place that all of the aspects of it corresponded very precisely to the way in which the people had described it, including rooms in which people had been beaten with iron bars, and places where they had been taken out after being blindfolded and loaded into trucks and taken away, two miles away, to be shot in a mass pit, where they, where they were then pushed into it. Later on, we came to the warehouse in Kravika, which you saw in the footage earlier, which is probably the most graphic example of corroborating the stories that we had heard from refugees in July. There in this warehouse were enormous holes in the wall of a concrete and steel structure where clearly large weapons had been fired, hand grenades had been reported to have been thrown into this warehouse, up to 2,000 people were said to have been in there. These were people who came down out of the hills and were coaxed to go into the warehouse by individuals with megaphones who were wearing blue helmets which they had taken from the UN, saying that the ICRC, the International Committee for the Red Cross, is here to receive you and please enter into this warehouse. When they did, these weapons were fired inside. Probably the most ghastly aspect of what I saw was, and the war crimes tribunal investigators pointed it out to me, evidence of blood on the ceiling of the warehouse which is about 30 feet above the floor. So one can only imagine what that must have meant in terms of what was going on on the night of July 13th, when these executions are said to have occurred.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And how many such places like that exist?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, I hope that there are not many but certainly the stories that we have from survivors of Srebrenica indicate that up to 7,000 people may have lost their lives in this stream of refugees coming out of this, some of them of course taken away in trucks from the town, itself.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And where are the bodies?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, there are mass graves.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: I mean, did you go there?
SEC. SHATTUCK: We visited on mass grave, the site at Glogova, which again appeared on your film footage here, and there we could see, indeed, pieces of clothing, a shoe, a human bone that was sticking out of the ground, and there was very little evidence of any--that any tampering of this site had occurred, except for the fact that clearly at some point within the last six months, presumably six months ago, there was a mass grave that was dug.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And, and you think that there's--you saw enough and you think there's enough evidence there so that when human rights investigators do get in there in the Spring, when it starts to thaw out in the Spring, there'll be enough evidence to collect to make cases?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, the investigation that was conducted by the two tribunal investigators who were with me in terms of filming of all of these sites was very extensive so that evidence has already been collected, and I think when they go in in the Spring, certainly there's an opportunity to excavate the mass graves to find out more about how these persons were killed.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And is this all just in the Serb-held areas, all Muslim--atrocities committed against Muslims, or are there other sites and cases where Muslims may have committed atrocities?
SEC. SHATTUCK: This--the area that I'm describing is where the Muslims were fleeing from Srebrenica, behind the line of confrontation where no fighting was going on, and so clearly, the evidence that I saw indicates that these were executions. There are, however, plenty of other sites, and including some in the Croatian area. This, this month the war crimes tribunal is beginning investigation of a mass grave site in Croatia, where Serbs were, were executed presumably by, by the Croatians, so this is a very difficult and, and broad process that is being initiated by the international war crimes tribunal to find all such cases.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: But in terms of what you saw, is there any doubt in your mind that there was a campaign of mass executions in this area?
SEC. SHATTUCK: What I saw so clearly corresponded to what I had heard from the people who fled from that town that I can't call it anything other than sheer murder of a large number of people; how many we still don't know, that remains to be found from the investigators.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And not, as the Serbs say, just the result of people being killed in a civil war? That's their defense.
SEC. SHATTUCK: This was not an area where there was any fighting at that time, or at any, at almost any other time. This was an area well within the Serb control.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How hard is it going to be to determine how and prosecute the people who are responsible for this?
SEC. SHATTUCK: This is going to be difficult, but it's an essential part of the peace process, and I think what we've seen and the pain throughout the land there is so great, the need for truth as well as justice to go along with peace is really essential, and the truth fact finding aspect of what's happening now is very important I think to all the parties and then ultimately justice in terms of finding those who were responsible for these crimes.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And you think that can be done?
SEC. SHATTUCK: I think it can be done. I think that's the task of the international war crimes tribunal which the United States very strongly supports. Justice Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of the tribunal, was here today, and has been meeting with high-level officials in our government. We are completely behind the work of this tribunal, and we see it as an essential element of the process of peace-making and reconciliation in the former Yugoslavia.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Has the NATO role in this been cleared up? I mean, are the troops going to help secure these areas to keep them from being "sanitized" and also assist the investigators and protect them in their work?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, it's made very clear in the Dayton accords that one of the tasks of the international force is to provide a secure environment for international organizations such as the war crimes tribunal and Justice Goldstone has had good discussions with Adm. Smith, who is the commander of the IFOR force in Sarejvo last week when I was there--
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: He was saying that this wasn't their job.
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, they issued a statement together, which I think very much clears up any, any misconceptions. I think it is their job to help provide a secure environment by patrolling in the area. It is the job of the tribunal to conduct the investigations.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: And will they stand outside of these sites and make sure that no one tampers with them?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, I think this is a subject that needs to be discussed further between the tribunal and the, and the international force. That was what, what Adm. Smith and Justice Goldstone agreed to do. But clearly there will be security provided.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Is it true that the U.S. investigations of, of these atrocities go all the way up to the Serbian president, Milosevic? I mean, might he be implicated in these massacres?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, the U.S. has agreed to provide all information that's appropriate and necessary to the conduct of this tribunal investigation, and that includes information relating to anyone who is involved or in, in authority at the time.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Is that investigation of him going on?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, this is an investigation that's being conducted by the war crimes tribunal. I can't tell you exactly what they're--who they're focusing on or where they're going, but we've made it very clear that we believe that the tribunal's task is to go wherever the evidence leads it.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: How much faith do you put in the Bosnians today, Serb leaders saying that they're going to cooperate up to the maximum and prosecute anyone accused of murder or other crimes?
SEC. SHATTUCK: Well, let me say I think it was very significant under the Dayton accord that I was able to travel to this area, and that I was able to have President Milosevic make a commitment to assure with the Bosnian Serb leaders--police that I could travel freely in the area, and he made a further commitment at the end of my visit that he would fully cooperate with the war crimes tribunal in its investigations.
CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Well, Sec. Shattuck, welcome back and thank you for joining us.
SEC. SHATTUCK: Thank you.