Drazen Erdemovic: Murderer or Victim

By Jaël Nürnberger

Drazen Erdemovic was involved in the war crime of Srebrenica, former Yugoslavia, were he shot, as he said 70 civilians.

The persecution says that Erdemovic was responsible of the crime because he knew at some point that he would have to shoot people if he were in the army.

I would answer to that, that Drazen had no chance to avoid joining an army in the war, and he asked before if he would have to be at the front or behind the lines.

The former commander wanted him in the intelligence department, but due to a change of commanders, he was sorted to a new unit, who had to work at the front.

That makes me question if he really had a chance before to not participate.

Another point is that Erdemovic clearly stated that he did not want to participate in the shooting itself, but that if he would not, he would have been killed too.

The persecution said he should have sacrificed his life to save other lives. My question now is, would this be an option for any of you? Human beings normally do not act this way. Humans have the will to live, no matter what.

I do not know what I would do in a situation he was in. 

Would I consider standing in the line with all the other victims? In other words, would I commit suicide for people I do not know? We all must answer that part. Do we have a will to live?

I would never stand in the line with them. And furthermore I do not believe that this would be selfish. Because it is in our nature to do anything to live. Of course, it is also in our nature to help people, to show compassion. But that is why Drazen Erdemovic went to court and wanted this trial, because he wanted to show respect and compassion.

Would I shoot people? Would I shoot people, if I had no choice, but to die?

For some that would come to consideration, but I do not believe that many would go farther than taking the gun.

I think killing is not easy, but in the history of humanity it got easier. Not only physically, but also the distance between hurting someone with your bare hands and just pulling a trigger is very big.

I would try to shoot at the ground or the sky. Would this work? Probably not, but it would be worth a try.

To be honest, I think, as I am even younger than Erdemovic was (he was 24), I would try to do exactly the thing he did.

We also must consider what would have happened if he would be killed too.

Sometimes decisions are not about right or wrong. They are about, with which decision could I live better?

With the fact that I probably killed people or that I would die, and my family would probably be killed, too?

And as we all know, “killing is not as easy as the innocent believe”, so I believe that Drazen Erdemovic is punished enough by knowing he killed people.

One answer is to not answer the question, to not offer a solution. But that would be quite unfair for Edemovic and everybody involved.

So,  charge him? But he is not truly guilty.

Maybe just tell him, he is innocent. But he ended lives.

I would charge him with a short prison sentence, to for one make him think, he can end this bad conscience and for justice for the victims.

I think it would be good for his mind to know: Ok, I did something, and I am being punished. But I helped uncover crimes, so I receive a short sentence.