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

Sarajevo Genocide Trial Resumes

(TU No 465, 26-Aug-06)
The case is the first and so far the only trial for genocide before the court

Principal defendant Milos Stupar, a commander in the Sekovici Special Police in July 1995, together with ten others - Milenko Trifunovic, Milovan Matic, Brana Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragisa Zivanovic, Petar Mitrovic and Branislav Medan - is accused of being a member “of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcibly evicting women and children from the Srebrenica enclave” after it was overrun by Serb forces in summer 1995.

Their indictment also states that on July 13 the eleven men took part in the “shooting of about 1,000 Muslim men” in a large warehouse in the nearby village of Kravice.

The prosecutors claim that the accused were in the group of Serb soldiers and policemen who machine-gunned and threw grenades at prisoners, and then helped bury and re-bury their bodies in several mass graves after the execution.

In February this year, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them. Their trial began on May 9 and is still in the prosecution phase.

This week the prosecutors subpoenaed four Bosnian Serb policemen whose testimonies were unspecific and inconclusive, and they appeared to be unhappy about being brought to the court to testify against their former colleagues and commanders.

One of them - Stupar’s former personal driver and policeman Nikola Milakovic - ended up praising his onetime boss for being “a great man” who was “helping everyone, including captured Muslim soldiers” on many occasions.

Their testimonies in court also appeared to be quite different from those given to the Bosnian investigators several months ago.

At one point, prosecutor Ibro Bulic asked one of the witnesses, Dusko Mekic, whether he was “intimidated by someone” or had “any other reason to change his statement” which he gave last year, but the witness didn’t answer the question.

The Bosnian war crimes court was set up a year ago, and one of the main problems it is still struggling with is an inadequate witness protection programme. Unlike the Hague tribunal, it lacks resources that would guarantee protection of witnesses who appear at the trials of people who are often their neighbours.

Relocation of the witnesses within Bosnia is almost impossible because the country is very small, while moving them to a third country is too expensive and the court cannot afford it.

The case is expected to continue next Friday.

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