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20 July 2012
News

Neskovic and Ilic: Presentation of Evidence Completed

BIRN BiH
The presentation of evidence at the trial of Dragan Neskovic and Zoran Ilic, who are charged with crimes against humanity in Srebrenica in 1995, has been completed with the examination of the last Defence witness and presentation of evidence by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Krsto Rankic, former Company Commander with the Bratunac Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, testified in defence of Zoran Ilic at this hearing. He said that he exempted the indictee's father from his guard duties in July 1995, so he could make preparations for a farewell party for his son, who was about to join the Army.

“Jovica Ilic was a member of my Company. We held positions to the east of Srebrenica. We allowed people to be absent, whether it was regular leave or extraordinary circumstances. I would let people be absent in case their family member was sick or if they had a religious holiday, christening or farewell for future soldiers,” Rankic said.

He said that, although he was aware of an order issued by the VRS Main Headquarters on June 19, 1995, prohibiting absence of soldiers from their units, except for the purpose of medical treatment, he allowed Ilic's father and a few other Company members to be absent due to the farewell party during the operation in Srebrenica in July, when the level of combat preparedness was increased.

“I let them go on around St. Peter's Day, which is July 12, because I felt that no combat activities were taking place and that civilians and soldiers were moving towards Tuzla. They were unwashed, it was the St. Peter's Day and recruits were going to join the Army on July 14. I may have approved the absence of as many as 20 people. I let Jovica Ilic and a few of his relatives go. (…) Had I not done that, they would have escaped,” Rankic said.

Responding to cross-examination questions by the Prosecution, he said that Ilic's father was away for three or four days.

Neskovic and Ilic, former members of the Jahorina Training Centre with Special Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, are charged with having participated in the capture of Bosniaks, whom they took to the Agricultural Co-operative in Kravica, near Bratunac, where about one thousand of them were killed.

It is alleged that Ilic shot from an automatic rifle at the men, who had already been shot, while two members of the Centre killed two prisoners, as per Neskovic's order.

The trial is due to continue on August 20, when the Prosecution will present its closing statement. 
                                                                                                                                         A.S.

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