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

No Srebrenica Regrets for 'Stalin'

Bosnian Serb official claims deportation was "normal and useful".
By Emir Suljagic

A Bosnian Serb official intimately involved in the deportation of civilians from Srebrenica in July 1995 told the court this week that he had no regrets about his actions.


Dusko Jevic, now an inspector in the Bosnian Serb interior ministry in charge of special police training, was speaking on October 21 as a prosecution witness in the trial of Vidoje Blagojevic and Dragan Jokic, two Bosnian Serb officers accused of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war at Srebrenica, where 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men died in a series of massacres.


Prosecutors hope his testimony will prove key factual allegations about the number and names of the Bosnian Serb units present in Potocari on July 12-14, 1995.


They hope to demonstrate the existence of a conspiratorial silence between former Bosnian Serb officials who took part in the Srebrenica operation, in spite of recent guilty pleas by two men indicted with Jokic and Blagojevic - Momir Nikolic and Dragan Obrenovic.


Jevic - nicknamed "Stalin" - was an operations officer in the Bosnian Serb Special Police Brigade. He said that on July 12 and July 13, 1995, he organised what he called the "evacuation" of the Muslim civilian population from Srebrenica.


However, he said he did not see the separation of men from their families. "It has been eight years and I have been trying to remember every detail. Personally I know I did a normal and useful thing," Jevic said.


Jevic said that on July 10 his commander, Colonel Ljubomir Borovcanin, in charge of all police units in Srebrenica, ordered him to Bratunac with a company from a police training camp on Mount Jahorina. He said the unit consisted of young deserters picked up by the police in Serbia and returned to Bosnia for military service.


When shown the order, signed by the Bosnian Serb interior minister on July 10, 1995, ordering a mixed unit of Serbian and Bosnian Serb police based in Trnovo near Sarajevo to go to Srebrenica, Jevic said he had not known anything about it.


"I don't know about members of the Serbian police. I did not have an opportunity to see them [in Srebrenica]," Jevic said, adding: "They were without a doubt in Trnovo."


On the evening of July 11, Jevic met Colonel Borovcanin in the police station in Bratunac, and was told to move to Potocari the next day and secure the United Nations base where tens of thousands of refugees had found shelter.


"From the order I received I had the impression that General Radislav Krstic had overall command of the operation," said Jevic.


After his men reached Potocari and surrounded the civilians, Jevic saw Borovcanin talking to General Ratko Mladic near the entrance to the UN camp.


Minutes after Borovcanin and Mladic had parted, Jevic received new orders from the former. "I [was told] that buses would arrive to evacuate the civilians and I should go into the camp with a Dutch officer and see how many civilians there were there, " he said.


After inspecting the camp, he went outside and waited for the buses to come. As he waited, Mladic arrived and told him to join him at the place where most of the refugees were.


"I was next to him as he gave away food and chocolate. He told them not to worry, that vehicles would arrive quickly, that everything had been agreed, that the Serbian army was fair," said Jevic.


Shortly after the buses arrived, Jevic was ordered to send two platoons of his unit from Potocari to secure the road between Bratunac and Konjevic Polje, where most of the Muslim prisoners were caught.


Jevic remained in Potocari. "Momir Nikolic said I coordinated the separation of the men from their families. I say I did not. All these men boarded trucks. Whether they were separated later or not, I did not know and was not in a position to know," said Jevic.


Lead prosecutor Peter McCloskey asked Jevic if he had seen or heard of any abuse of Muslim prisoners, or if he had witnessed men being separated from their families. The witness answered that he had not.


Jevic told the court that he had no recollection of contacting Momir Nikolic during his two days in Potocari.


On July 13, Jevic heard of the shooting at a warehouse in Kravica, where a police unit from Sekovici, which was part of the Special Police Brigade, killed around a thousand prisoners. However, he told the prosecutor that he had not asked for a report on the incident, as the unit had not been under his command.


Three days later, Jevic was in charge of the police units that had searched the area through which columns of Muslim men and boys passed earlier.


The search party consisted of his unit, a police unit from Zvornik and elements of the Bratunac and Milici brigades of the Bosnian Serb Army.


"We communicated with Bratunac Brigade headquarters during the search," Jevic said. He identified the officer in charge of the military units as Captain Gavric of the Bratunac Brigade.


"He commanded the troops in the field and received orders through him," Jevic said.


In the evening of July 16, the search party captured around 200 Muslim men and four boys aged 10 to 15 years old. Captain Gavric took the children away and Jevic said he never heard what had happened to them.


"What happened to the men?" asked the prosecutor. "They were put on buses and taken to Zvornik," replied Jevic.


Emir Suljagic is an IWPR reporter in The Hague.