Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

COURTSIDE: Prijedor Genocide Trial

Documents allege Yugoslav army involvement in preparing Prijedor Serbs for war.
By Mirna Jancic

Two documents attracted public attention during last week's trial of Dr Milomir Stakic, who is charged with genocide of non-Serbs in Prijedor area.


The trial chamber admitted as evidence an article published in the Sarajevo weekly Slobodna Bosna on June 6, 2000. The text mentions five people from state security body Bosnian Agency for Information and Documentation, AID, in connection with an anti-terrorist raid by UN Implementation Forces in 1996.


Some of the AID personnel in question are currently on trial in Sarajevo. The defence said these same officials had supplied the prosecution with documents used as evidence during the trial. Stakic's team insisted that as a result of the allegations raised against the individuals, the authenticity of the documents was now open to question.


Defence counsel John Ostojic especially voiced his suspicions about six documents bearing Stakic's signature, which were supplied by AID officials.


Prosecution team leader Mavhar Inayat told the court that during his contacts with AID officials, he had never received any documents from the people mentioned in the article. Inayat added that when he had sought something from the agency, "we would apply for it indirectly, through the communications officer of the Bosnian government".


Judge Wolfgang Schomburg was reluctant to accept the article as evidence, saying the chamber ought not to connect the AID Sarajevo court case to Stakic's trial.


The prosecution said the Sarajevo case had no relevance to the Stakic case, while the defence team said the allegations against AID officials might mean the documents they sent to The Hague were forged.


While the trial chamber then chose to accept the article, it made it clear that it did not attribute much weight to it as evidence.


The prosecution then submitted another document that drew attention. This sought to prove how Serb forces in Prijedor had planned a takeover long before the conflict started.


A report by the local RS Serb interior ministry cited detailed arrangements by local police to use force to take over the municipality. It stated that parallel police units had been formed to shadow the official law enforcement agencies, which were dominated by Muslims before the city fell in spring 1992.


The document alleges that around 1,500 people had been organised in 13 police centres and the Yugoslav National Army, JNA, had supplied them with arms and munitions, which were kept in private houses.


The defence disputed the authenticity of this document along with a series of others presented to the court, which also detail the Serbs' alleged advance preparations for war.


Mirna Jancic is an IWPR assistant editor