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11 March 2015
News

Separate Proceedings Against Bjelica, Witnesses Describe his Wartime Activities

Lamija Grebo BIRN BiH Sarajevo

The proceedings against Marinko Bjelica will take place separately from the other defendants accused of committing crimes against civilians in Kalinovik. The trial chamber decided to conduct separate proceedings for Bjelica due to his poor health.

Expert witness Senad Pesto said Bjelica is extremely ill and has problems with his heart and spine, as well as other medical issues.

Pesto recommended removing Bjelica from the trial for the next six months. As a result, the trial chamber decided to continue its proceedings against Bjelica separately from the other defendants.

The trial continued with testimony from defendant Zoran Bjelica, a former member of the Army of Republika Srpska.

Bjelica and Novica Tripkovic are charged with participating in the murder and torture of Bosniak civilians who were detained at the Miladin Radojevic primary school in Kalinovik in August 1992.

Witness Tihomir Bozalo said he was a car mechanic in a military workshop, and that Bjelica came to assist the shop in the spring of 1993.

“According to my knowledge, he [Bjelica] was in Montenegro until he came to the workshop in 1993,” Bozalo said. He said Bjelica had certain privileges because his two brothers had died. For example, he didn’t have to go to the frontline.

The prosecution asked Bozalo if he knew where the Miladin Radojevic primary school was located and what happened there. He said he knew that the Bosniak population was located there.

Witness Vidak Govedarica, a former director of the workshop, said he met Zoran Bjelica in the second half of 1993. Govedarica said Bjelica allegedly came to Kalinovik from Montenegro and was sent to work in the workshop.

According to Govedarica, two months after Bjelica’s arrival to the workshop, commanders gave Bjelica a military vehicle to pick up his family with in Montenegro. Goveradica said the vehicle got into an accident, and was towed back to the workshop.

Witness Vojin Lalovic said he saw Zoran Bjelica for the first time in a workshop in Donji Logor in May 1993. He said he hadn’t seen him before.

Lalovic said there were rumors that Bjelica fled to Montenegro, but he didn’t talk to him about it.

The trial will continue on March 25.
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