Witnesses Deny Jankovic Unit Attacked Civilians

Paramilitary members say accused not in charge of operations near Foca.

Witnesses Deny Jankovic Unit Attacked Civilians

Paramilitary members say accused not in charge of operations near Foca.

Friday, 22 December, 2006
The trial of Gojko Jankovic, a Bosnian Serb accused of raping and torturing Muslim women, at the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber this week heard from witnesses who denied he led attacks on civilians near Foca in eastern Bosnia.

The indictment against Jankovic, a deputy commander in the military police, alleges that he was in charge of the group that attacked Bosniaks hiding in the Kremenik hills near Foca, some of whom were killed. He is also accused of separating several women from the group, then interrogating and raping them. One was only 15-years-old at the time.

Other charges include commanding a group which attacked the Bosnian Muslim village of Brezine near Zubovici on April 14, 1992. Many civilians arrested there were taken to the Foca correctional centre from where they subsequently disappeared.

However, witness Radmilo Tomovic - a member of Jankovic’s paramilitary unit which was part of the Foca Tactical Brigade - said it was Radmilo Babic who was in charge during the Brezine attack, not Jankovic. He said the accused did not take over until May 1992.

Babic was allegedly a Serb volunteer who came to the unit at the same time as Jankovic and this week’s witnesses. The defence has tried to prove he was in charge in the early days before going back to Serbia with the rest of the Yugoslav National Army, the JNA. The prosecution, however, insists Babic does not exist and at previous hearings established that some witnesses could not describe him.

Witness Dragan Paprica - part of the same group - added it was Serb National Guard members who were in charge of operations in the Zubovici area, not Jankovic’s unit. “They were a much more organised military than we were,” he said.

His testimony was backed by that of another paramilitary member, Milenko Paprica [no relation to Dragan] who agreed that the National Guard was in charge at Kremnik and Zubovici and that Jankovic’s group played no part in attacks there. “We mainly did scouting and guarding of areas,” said Paprica, who is also Jankovic’s brother-in-law.

Prosecutor Phillip Alcock then asked Paprica if he’d ever heard of Ziba Dzin. “This woman gave sworn testimony where she said that you arrested her, took her to your car and raped her,” he said.

Paprica denied the claim, asking, “How would she know my name?”, to which Alcock pointed out she’d seen his driver’s license on the dashboard. “She remembered even your last name and place of birth,” he said.

The final witness of the week was a Bosnian Serb woman from Foca, Zivanovic Zorica, who spoke about the testimony of two earlier prosecution witnesses.

The first, known only as protected witness 191, told the court she was taken from her home and brought to a house in Foca where she was held as a sex slave by Jankovic and his men. The second, protected witness 186, said she was only 12-years-old when Jankovic picked her out as his sex slave.

Zorica said she had met both women during the war and become friends with witness 191. “She never said anything about Jankovic,” said Zorica.

She also said she visited the home of witness 191 where she met witness 186. “She [186] was getting dressed and told me she was getting ready, because her boyfriend was coming. I asked who was it, and she told me Gojko Jankovic,” said Zorica.

When asked by Alcock if she found it strange that Jankovic had a 12-year-old girlfriend, Zorica replied, “Love happens to all of us, sometimes from first sight, sometimes from the tenth.”

Jankovic’s case was referred to the Bosnian War Crimes Chamber in July 2005 and his trial began ten months later on April 21 in Sarajevo. His three co-accused Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic were convicted in 2001, sentenced to 28, 20 and 12 years in prison respectively. Two others, Dragan Gagovic and Janko Janjic, died attempts to arrest them in 1999 and 2000.

The case resumes January 18 with testimony from three more of Jankovic’s former comrades and his wife Milica. They are the final defence witnesses with the trial expected to end in February.

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR reporter in Sarajevo.
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