Jezik / Language:
11 February 2015

Bosnian Serb Fighter Was in Montenegro During War, Say Witnesses

Albina Sorguč BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Defense witnesses at the trial of former Bosnian Serb fighter Zoran Bjelica say that he was in Montenegro when alleged crimes he committed in Kalinovik took place.

Witness Mladenka Sarenac said that she met Bjelica in Niksic in June 1992. Sarenac said that when she met Bjelica he was helping the Red Cross distribute humanitarian aid, and said that he had provided her with some aid as well.

According to Sarenac, Bjelica lived in Niksic with his wife and children. She said that she lived next door to the Bjelicas as of October 1992.

When asked by defense attorney Milan Romanic whether Bjelica returned to Bosnia during that time, Sarenac said that he didn’t go back, adding that he worked at a local auto repair shop.

Sarenac said that she returned to Bosnia in November 1993, and she believed that the Bjelica family had returned a few months earlier.

Zoran Bjelica is on trial with Marinko Bjelica and Novica Tripkovic, all former members of the Army of Republika Srpska, for crimes committed against civilians during the Bosnian war. The Bosnian state prosecution has charged the defendants with participating in the murder and torture of Bosniak civilians detained at the Miladin Radojevic school building in Kalinovik in August 1992.

At the same hearing, defense witness Nedeljko Dragovic said that he gave a cousin's car to Bjelica in February or March 1992, so that he could go to Niksic with his family. The defendant had a four-day old baby at that time, Dragovic said.

Dragovic said that he went to Niksic a year later and saw Bjelica there.

Dragan Sulic, the third defence witness to testify at today’s hearing, said that he knew Zoran Bjelica during the war.

“I heard after the war that he lost two brothers,” Sulic said.

Sulic, a former clerk of the Army of Republika Srpska, said that he kept records and issued certificates, and that such information was recorded in personal military service books.

“Some data might have been wrong. It could have happened that we wrote that someone had been sent to perform a task, when in reality it didn’t happen. It wasn’t my job to check those things,” Sulic said.

Responding to a question by the prosecution, Sulic said he didn’t remember having filled out information for Zoran Bjelica.

Zeljka Marenic, judge and chairwoman of the trial chamber, said that an expert examination of defendant Marinko Bjelica’s health would be conducted in order to determine his ability to attend future hearings.

The trial will continue on March 4.

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