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- Trying to hide the truth

"Some are trying to hide the truth about Norway's role when Srebrenica fell," said one of the officers who was subordinate to sector manager Hagrup Haukland.


A source close to the events in Tuzla when the Norwegian colonel Hagrup Haukland had command of the Dutch UN forces in Srebrenica believes that some are trying to hide the truth in relation to Norway's role in the fateful days when the UN-declared "safe zone" fell and Thousands of Muslim men and boys were massacred.

- It has amazed me for a long time that the Norwegian commitment in relation to Srebrenica has not come to the table before. It was not even a Dutchman who was commander of the Dutch UN forces in Srebrenica, the commander was Norwegian, says the source, an officer who was in Haukland's multinational staff in Tuzla in 1995.

The links between the Norwegians in Tuzla and the Dutch in Srebrenica also had several legs to stand on. The Norwegian force was responsible for the supplies of the Dutch soldiers in the Muslim enclave.

Several officers who were in Haukland's staff now tell Ny Tid that the Norwegian sector manager did not "return immediately" from his controversial holiday in Norway when he was told that the Serbs were attacking Srebrenica.

Haukland himself says the following in an e-mail to Ny Tid: "I would very much like an investigation to be launched into my role in Bosnia."

- Disappointed with Haukland

One of the officers that Ny Tid has spoken to, and who does not want to appear in public, tells Ny Tid that he can testify that Haukland, who was sector commander of the UN forces in northeastern Bosnia with headquarters in Tuzla, did not return immediately. to Tuzla from a holiday in Norway when he was told by his deputy commander that Srebrenica was about to fall into Serbian hands.

- I can confirm that Haukland was not there. Haukland was a very good boss. I am therefore very disappointed that he does not admit it and says it as it was, that he did not return to Tuzla as soon as he was notified of the crisis in Srebrenica. For this he knows, he remembers everything, says the officer, who believes that Haukland was back at headquarters on 14 July.

He is supported by Colonel Lieutenant Harald Valved, who at that time was Hagrup Haukland's right-hand man and military adviser in Tuzla.

Valved carefully kept diaries while in Bosnia, and reads the following from the notes he made on July 14, 1995:

- 19.700 refugees have crossed the line of confrontation. It was a riot after morning meeting where everyone accused each other of doing the wrong things. Haukland returned at 12.10, quotes Valved, who was in Tuzla from March to October 1995.

This is in stark contrast to Haukland's own statement in VG where he claims he was back in Tuzla on July 10. However, Valved is sure that his diary notes tell the truth.

- I have no doubt that Haukland returned from the holiday on 14 July. I even copied and given these diary notes to Haukland several years ago, Valved explains.

Also battalion commander of the Norwegian forces in Tuzla at that time, Colonel Knut Jahr, remembers that Haukland was on holiday in Norway when the Serbs attacked Srebrenica. Jahr, however, cannot remember exactly what date Haukland returned to headquarters.

- Error by Haukland

The Dutch investigation into the Srebrenica massacre differs somewhat from these testimonies in that it concludes that Haukland returned from his holiday on July 15, six days after his deputy raised an alarm and five days after the Serbs took Srebrenica and started the massacre.

According to the investigation report, Deputy Colonel Charles Brantz called Haukland twice on July 9 to inform the Sector Commander of the Srebrenica crisis. According to testimony from Brantz, Haukland then asked his second in command whether Brantz could not handle the situation himself.

Brantz responded in the affirmative, but commented to the Dutch Commission of Inquiry that he found it "strange that commanders are not obliged to return to their posts when the principles of safe zones are violated".

- Of course, Brantz says yes when his boss asks if he can take over command. This is how it works in the military. Therefore, it was wrong of Haukland to ask his subordinate about this as the situation was. He himself says that the situation around Srebrenica was a nightmare from the first moment. Haukland should therefore undoubtedly have returned to Tuzla as soon as he was told, says the officer who wishes to remain anonymous.

- Correct with investigation

He says that in the days around 9 and 10 July, the staff in Tuzla knew that the UN-declared "safe zone" would fall into Serbian hands.

Accordingly, the officer thinks it is strange that Haukland and the defense chief at the time, Arne Solli, expressed that the attack against Srebrenica came as a surprise.

- We knew early on that the Serbs were building up their forces around Srebrenica. At the end of June, Haukland repeatedly informed the headquarters in Sarajevo about this, he says.

The officer also finds it strange that the Norwegian authorities claim that Norway had nothing to do with the Dutch soldiers in Srebrenica. In addition to having a Norwegian commander, he points out that the Norwegian force in Tuzla was responsible for supplies to the Dutch soldiers.

- It is going too far to say that Norway had nothing to do with the Dutch. The Norwegian authorities must know that Norway had responsibility for the supply of the Dutch UN force in Srebrenica. Also, the Chief of Defense visited us and knew what was happening. Therefore, it becomes too stupid if they say they do not know, says the officer.

Now that one has first started digging into the case, he thinks it is right with an investigation to get all the facts on the table. For, as he says:

- Some try to hide the truth.

- The staff did not work

Haukland's former adviser, for his part, doubts whether an investigation of Norway's role has any purpose.

- It will be digging into individuals' way of handling things. As for Haukland, I know that he took this job bloody seriously, says Valved, and points out that Haukland had several times before postponed his holiday due to incidents in the sector he was responsible for.

At the same time, Valved agrees that an investigation will make it possible to learn from previous mistakes. For Valved is aware that there were major cooperation problems in Haukland's staff, not least between the Dutch and the Pakistanis, as evidenced by his diary entries about the "riot meeting".

- We had a staff that did not work. Haukland had a better grip on the staff than his deputy commander, Brantz. The staff therefore suffered from the fact that Haukland was not there, says Valved, who at the same time emphasizes that he is sure that Haukland would have returned immediately from Norway to Tuzla if he had been asked to do so.

- Nothing to find

Former battalion commander Jahr believes that Norway can easily take on a possible investigation.

- You are welcome to carry out an investigation. In that case, it's done quickly, because there is nothing to find. Norway had no role, says Jahr, who believes that the Dutch have engaged in a kind of self-torture in this context, which is surprising.

- The Dutch battalion was a very well trained and manned battalion. The problem was that the mandate, rules of engagement, support and equipment were not in proportion to the assignment the battalion actually received, says Jahr.

Jahr is also aware that he thinks it is a blind spot to focus on the fact that Sector Head Haukland was on vacation when Srebrenica fell.

- This was a planned holiday, and the whole staff was otherwise in tact. Brantz had been in Tuzla for so long that he should be able to take command, says Jahr.

Nor does another officer in Haukland's staff, Colonel Lieutenant Ivar Haave, see any problems in Haukland being away on vacation.

- Haukland had a deputy commander. This was therefore not a problem, says Haave, who was head of the Norwegian sanitation company in Tuzla.

- Norwegian supplies to the Dutch

Hagrup Haukland was in command of a multinational UN force with contributions from Sweden, Denmark, Pakistan and the Netherlands.

In the summer of 1995, the Norwegian force in the sector (NORLOGBN) consisted of well over 600 soldiers, including 11 personnel at Tuzla headquarters.

The main contribution from Norway was a logistics battalion. He was responsible for supplies to all the UN forces in Bosnia, including the Dutch soldiers in Srebrenica, and therefore reported directly to the UN forces headquarters in Sarajevo (UNPROFOR), and not to Haukland.

This means that the Norwegian contingent provided for the supply of everything from food to fuel and spare parts to the Dutch in the Muslim enclave via the Dutch supply base in Tuzla.

- Weapons and ammunition were, however, a national matter. I do not think we delivered it to the Dutch, recalls battalion commander Jahr.

As leader of the Norwegian contingent, he sent routine reports from Tuzla to the Norwegian Armed Forces Command.

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