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5 November 2013
News

Popovic without Information about Murder of Srebrenica Residents

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH The Hague
As the trial of Radovan Karadzic continues, former Chief Security Officer with the Drina Corps of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, Vujadin Popovic says that, in July 1995 he did not know about a plan for the killing of Srebrenica residents.
In his written statement, which was included in the case file, Popovic said that, on July 14, 1995 he was present in front of school buildings in Rocevic, Orahovac and Petkovci villages, near Zvornik, where thousands of Bosniak captives from Srebrenica were detained. However, he said that he “did not see any murders”.

Popovic indicated that, “at that time I did not know about any plan to shoot the prisoners”.

As he said, on the following day, July 15, 1995, Popovic found out that the prisoners were shot in Orahovac, Petkovci and Rocevici. He said that he found out about the mass murder in the Cultural Centre in Pilica village on July 16.

He said that he saw several tens of killed Bosniaks in front of the agricultural co-operative in Kravica, near Bratunac, in passing on July 13. As he said, he asked a policeman what had happened. The policeman told him: “An incident happened”. According to the charges, 1,000 Bosniaks were killed in Kravica on that day.

According to the indictment against Karadzic and first instance verdict against Popovic, VRS members shot 1,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks in each of the following villages: Orahovac, Petkovci and Rocevic, on July 14. It is further alleged that Serb forces killed 500 people in the Cultural Centre in Pilica and about 1,200 Bosniaks on nearby Branjevo farm two days later.

Popovic said that he had “never informed” Karadzic about all those shootings and that he had never seen a written report about them. “Nobody suggested that Karadzic knew about or approved the shooting of prisoners,” Popovic said.

Under a first instance verdict, which he has appealed, Popovic was marked as “a committed participant” in mass murders. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Karadzic, former supreme Commander of VRS, is charged with having participated in genocide in Srebrenica. He is also on trial for persecution of Bosniaks and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, terror against citizens in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage.

Testifying in defence of Karadzic, Popovic confirmed that he participated in the transportation of Srebrenica Bosniaks from Bratunac to school buildings in villages in the Zvornik surroundings on July 14, 1995. However, he denied having told his subordinate Momir Nikolic on July 12, 1995 that “all Muslims should be killed”, which Nikolic claimed during his testimony.

Nikolic admitted guilt for having participated in the Srebrenica crime. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Popovic said that he saw about 1,000 Bosniak captives on nearby meadows and at the football stadium on his way from Srebrenica to Bratunac on July 13, 1995.

During his testimony Popovic said that he saw bodies of “about thirty” shot Bosniaks in Bisina village, near Kladanj, on July 22, 1995, adding that he “began crying” when he saw that scene.

At the beginning of the cross-examination Prosecutor Jullian Nicholls suggested that, on July 13, 1995 Popovic should have investigated what had happened in the Kravica warehouse as soon as he saw bodies of killed Bosniaks. Popovic said that it was the responsibility of the Command of the unit, whose members had killed those prisoners, actually the Police Brigade.

The cross-examination of Popovic is due to continue on Wednesday, November 6.

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