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10 March 2015

Vukovic Testifies in Own Defense, Claims not to Know Victims

Milanka Kovacevic BIRN BiH Trebinje
Testifying on his own behalf, defendant Milenko Vukovic told the District Court in Trebinje that he doesn’t know the victims in the case against him.
The District prosecution in Trebinje has charged Vukovic with abusing civilians Senad, Hajrudin, Musan, and Hajro Sarancic from the village Canje on June 17, 1992, in the Yugoslav People’s Army Hall in Nevesinje.
At today’s hearing, Vukovic denied testimony previously given by witness Branko Vojicic. Vojicic said during his testimony that he saw Vukovic line up Musan, Garo, and Hajrudin Sarancic and Zifo Mutilovic against a wall, and ordered them to put their hands over their heads.
Vukovic said he never worked in the Army Hall in Nevesinje. He said Vojicic’s testimony was false, and that he and Vojicic had had personal clashes in the past.
“In mid-June 1992 I was in Brstenik. I didn’t see the victims. We didn’t contact each other after the war. I know Milan Djeric and Branko Vojicic. I was Branko’s controller in the factory we worked in, and we’ve disliked each other since,” Vukovic said.

After Vukovic’s testimony, closing arguments were presented to the judges. Prosecutor Bojana Markovic said witnesses described how Vukovic lined up the victims, beat them for over two hours, and insulted them. Afterwards, Markovic said, the Sarancics were taken by truck to Bileca, where they were exchanged after 63 days in Stolac.
Defense attorney Jovan Cokorilo said the prosecution failed to present a single piece of evidence that proved that his client had arrested or ordered the arrest of any civilian.

Cokorilo didn’t deny that the incident described in the indictment took place. However, according to Cokorilo the description of the perpetrator is “either unclear, or totally different from the description of the defendant provided in 1992.”
The verdict will be handed down on Friday, March 13.
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