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11 May 2006
News

Parties dispute Kravica "confessions"

BIRN BiH
Controversy surrounds statements given by two accused in Bosnia's first domestic genocide trial, in which they are said to have admitted their guilt.
A courtroom dispute continued today over statements given by two of 11 individuals charged in connection with the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre, in which they are said to have acknowledged their role in the crime.

Defence lawyers insist that the investigators who took the statements from Petar Mitrovic and Miladin Stevanovic after they were arrested in June last year failed to do so in accordance with the law.

The prosecution denies that this is the case. Representatives of the Bosnian State Court's registry and of the Republika Srpska interior ministry, who were involved in the process of taking the statements, also appeared in court to insist that procedure had been followed.

"Everything that was said in the hearing of the indicted Petar Mitrovic on June 21,2005, in the BiH Court was entered in the minutes. I was present when he was giving his statement," said registry employee Sabina Sarajlija.

The same, she said, went for Stevanovic's statement. She noted that Stevanovic had initially opted not to give a statement but that his lawyer had later contacted the prosecution to inform them that he had changed his mind.

The statements have not been read out in the courtroom. But an address by one of the accused in court included an oblique reference to the fact that they were said to have confessed their guilt. Both men are now pleading not guilty.

Mitrovic and Stevanovic are charged - alongside Miloš Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Brano Džinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragiša Živanovic, Branislav Medan and Milovan Matic - with the murders of some 1,000 Bosniak prisoners in a warehouse in the village Kravica on July 13, 1995, after Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian Serb army.

The trial is scheduled to continue on May 16.
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