Dražen Erdemović, was a soldier in the 10th Sabotage detachment of the Bosnian Serb Army in July 1995. He participated in the executions of hundreds of unarmed Bosnian Muslim men from the Srebrenica enclave. He was the first person to enter a guilty plea at the Tribunal and later testified as a witness in separate trials providing significant and detailed evidence about the crimes committed. Erdemović was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment.
20 November 1996 (extract from transcript of hearing)
“Yes, it is OK. First of all, honourable Judges, I wish to say that I feel sorry for all the victims, not only for the ones who were killed then at that farm, I feel sorry for all the victims in the former Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of their nationality.
I have lost many very good friends of all nationalities only because of that war, and I am convinced that all of them, all of my friends, were not in favour of a war. I am convinced of that. But simply they had no other choice. This war came and there was no way out. The same happened to me.
Because of my case, because of everything that happened, I of my own will, without being either arrested and interrogated or put under pressure, admitted even before I was arrested in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, I admitted to what I did to this journalist and I told her at that time that I wanted to go to the International Tribunal, that I wanted to help the International Tribunal understand what happened to ordinary people like myself in Yugoslavia.
As Mr. Babić has said, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia I admitted to what I did before the authorities, judicial authorities, and the authorities of the Ministry of the Interior, like I did here. Mr. Babić when he first arrived here, he told me, "Dražen, can you change your mind, your decision? I do not know what can happen. I do not know what will happen."
I told him because of those victims, because of my consciousness, because of my life, because of my child and my wife, I cannot change what I said to this journalist and what I said in Novi Sad, because of the peace of my mind, my soul, my honesty, because of the victims and war and because of everything. Although I knew that my family, my parents, my brother, my sister, would have problems because of that, I did not want to change it.
Because of everything that happened I feel terribly sorry, but I could not do anything. When I could do something, I did it. Thank you. I have nothing else to say. ”