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Witnesses Have Little to Say on Srebrenica Massacre

Former members of the Bosnian Serb security forces shed little new light on the killings.
By Denis Dzidic
Witnesses at the trial of 11 Bosnian Serbs accused of killing Muslim men and boys during the Srebrenica massacre offered the Bosnian war crimes court only limited first-hand recollections of the events of July 1995 when they appeared in court last week.

The case, which began on May 9 and is still in the prosecution phase, is the first and only genocide trial being heard by the Bosnian national war crimes court in Sarajevo.

The indictment alleges that principal defendant Milos Stupar, a commander in the Sekovici Special Police at the time, along with 10 accomplices - Milenko Trifunovic, Milovan Matic, Brane Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragisa Zivanovic, Petar Mitrovic and Branislav Medan – took part in killing more than 1,000 Muslims in a warehouse at Kravice, near Srebrenica, on July 13.

The defendants are also accused of being part 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. In February this year, they pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

The three Bosnian Serbs brought as prosecution witnesses last week were there because they had been served with subpoenas. They were serving in Serb police and army units and were in the vicinity of Srebrenica when the killings took place.

In court, two denied they knew what was going on, while a third said he heard gunshots and was told prisoners had been killed.

As has often been the case during this trial, the witnesses’ evidence in court differed considerably from statements they gave to Bosnian investigators.

One, Stanislav Vukajlovic, told the judges that the discrepancies were the result of pressure put on him when he was first questioned by investigators. He said one had been “very rude” and had threatened him with prison if he did not cooperate.

Vukajlovic was a soldier in the Bosnian Serb army, VRS, at the time of the events in question. He told the court that in March 1995, he deserted the army and fled to Serbia but was arrested there and deported back to Republika Srpska shortly before the massacre. He testified that his unit was deployed in the Bratunac area around July 12, but that he “didn’t see anything suspicious” over the next couple of days.

Witness Milos Vukovic, a former member of the Sekovici Special Police, was a truck driver stationed in Bratunac at the time of the massacre. He too said he had “no knowledge about the events in Srebrenica and Kravice”. He confirmed only that he saw a large number of buses and trucks carrying women and children from Srebrenica to the Bosnian Muslim-held town of Tuzla.

Milenko Pepic, an ex-member of the same police unit, said that on the day of the massacre he was in the vicinity of Kravice and heard “gunfire and detonations” coming from the direction of the warehouse. Later that day, he passed by the warehouse and saw bullet holes all over the building.

Her said a superior officer told him that “it wasn’t a good thing to shoot all those prisoners”.

The trial continues next week.

Denis Dzidic is an IWPR reporter in Sarajevo.

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