Jezik / Language:
19 March 2008

Bozic et al: Court expert's opinion

Court expert Richard Butler claims the Bratunac Brigade Military Police members could recognise unlawful orders, such as the ones referring to the killing and abuse of captured Srebrenica residents.
On the second day of his testimony at the trial of four former members of the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), court expert Richard Butler said that he considered, on the basis of the reviewed documents, that the indictees were able to tell which orders were unlawful, such as the abuse and murder of captured Srebrenica residents in July 1995.

The Prosecution of BiH charges Zdravko Bozic, Mladen Blagojevic, Zeljko Zaric and Zoran Zivanovic, as members of the VRS Bratunac Brigade Military Police, with having participated in the guarding of buses which transported captured men from Potocari to Bratunac, where they were detained and abused, and some were killed.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina alleges the indictees also guarded the school building in Bratunac, as well as the column of buses driving the captives to the school building in Orahovac near Zvornik.

During cross-examination, Butler said that the then legislation of Republika Srpska in place determined the death penalty as the most severe punishment for the disrespect of orders.

"Within my findings and opinion, I did not determine that the entire Military Police Squad of Bratunac Brigade was in one location, but if you pass by dead bodies and speak to your colleagues, you must know what is going on," Butler said.

Butler's report was commission by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The State Prosecution invited him to present to the Court of BiH. He said, during his research, he was not able to determine the exact number of persons detained in the school building in Bratunac or how many of them were transferred to the school in Orahovac. He also could not determine the total number of victims in those areas.

"A large number of persons were detained. I cannot say how many of them were driven to Orahovac on July 14, 1995, although the forensic reports indicate that there were about 1,000 persons," Butler said, adding that the figures concerning the number of civilians killed at various locations after the fall of Srebrenica "range from four to seven thousand victims."

Butler said the Bratunac Brigade documents confiscated from the VRS by the Hague Prosecution in 1998, "do not contain any data on the captives" or the units which guarded them.

"Those documents indicate that Military Police members participated in the guarding of captives, but they do not mention any names," Butler said.

In the course of cross-examination Butler said that, while preparing his report he "did not find any documents indicating that the captives were going to be executed". He considers that the captives were not killed in Potocari because "hundreds of  United Nations soldiers were present there."

"The UN forces were prevented from escorting the captives who were driven to various locations so that they would not see what was happening," said Butler, who has now completed his two-day testimony at the trial.

The date for the next hearing has not been determined as the Prosecution could not indicate when the witnesses, who live abroad, would be able to appear before the Court.

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