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17 January 2014
News

Denying Murders in Srebrenica

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
Testifying at Radovan Karadzic’s trial, a former member of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, says that, following the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995, he did not kill six Bosniaks, who surrendered, although his then superior Momir Nikolic accused him of doing it during the course of his testimony.
“I cannot say that I did it, because I did not do it. Momir Nikolic knows that, but he is pretending not to,” said Mile Petrovic, testifying in defence of Karadzic.

During his testimony against Karadzic in February 2012 Nikolic said that Petrovic killed six Bosniaks, who had previously surrendered, in Konjevic Polje on July 13, 1995.

In his testimony Petrovic confirmed having been in an armoured transporter along with Nikolic and his Commander Mirko Jankovic in July 1995, but he said that they took two Bosniaks prisoners and then took them to Konjevic Polje and joined them with the others.

“That is why I am testifying in public here. I want both Muslims and Serbs to see me. If they determine that I slapped a soldier or a Serb or a Muslim, they can shoot me right away. Nikolic said that I wanted to revenge my brother. How can I revenge him, considering the fact that I still do not know who killed him,” Petrovic said.

Momir Nikolic, former Security Officer with the Bratunac Brigade of VRS, admitted guilt before the Tribunal in 2003 for having persecuted Bosniaks from Srebrenica. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The indictment charges Radovan Karadzic, the then President of Republika Srpska and supreme Commander of its armed forces, is charged with genocide against about 7,000 Bosniaks in July 1995. Besides, he is on trial for persecuting Bosniaks and Croats, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, terrorising citizens in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

Witness Petrovic said that he escorted a convoy, transporting thousands of captives from Srebrenica to the Zvornik surroundings on July 14, 1995, but he said that he did not know that Serb forces would shoot them at those locations.

Responding to a suggestion by Prosecutor Melissa Pack that he escorted the Bosniaks to the school building in Orahovac, where the VRS shot them, Petrovic said that he still did not know which location it was.

“We drove those people to that place. They got off the bus and entered the school building on the right side of the road. When they went into the building, we returned. How can I know what happened after that. Nobody knows. Nobody would tell me. Even if something happened, those plans would not be shared with soldiers. I do not know anything about that,” Petrovic said, adding that he heard about the mass murders of Bosniaks from the media later on.

When asked if he knew that VRS members exhumed remains from mass graves in September and October 1995 in order to hide bodies of victims from Srebrenica, the witness answered negatively. The Prosecutor then insisted on the fact that the trucks, which transported the bodies, passed through the Bratunac downtown area. Petrovic responded by saying: “I did not know about it either. I heard that from other people, who were present there, a couple of days later”.

The trial of Karadzic is due to continue on Monday, January 20.
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