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24 December 2014
News

Zoran Bjelica Was in Montenegro

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Testifying in defence of Zoran Bjelica at the trial of three former members of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, who are charged with crimes in Kalinovik, witnesses say that they did not see the indictee from May 1992 onwards, because he was in Montenegro.
Nenad Jokic said that he was indictee Zoran Bjelica's Commander in the First Squad with the First Company of the Trnovska Brigade of VRS from April to May 1992.

“In late May I filed a request for him to take his family to Montenegro. He received a permit from Kalinovik to be away for a day or two. He did not come back,” Jokic said, adding that this was why he was dismissed from the position of Squad Commander.

Jokic said that Zoran Bjelica returned to Kalinovik in April or May 1993 and that, due to the fact that his two brothers had been killed, he was tasked with logistical activities in the background and was not deployed to front lines.

When asked whether the military records contained entries for persons, who had never been members of the Army, the witness answered affirmatively, adding that some people were registered in order to get material benefits.

Zoran Bjelica is on trial, along with Marinko Bjelica and Novica Tripkovic, for having committed crimes in Kalinovik. The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH, charges them with having participated, as former members of VRS, in the murder and torture of Bosniak civilians, who were detained in the “Miladin Radojevic” school building in Kalinovik, in August 1992.

Testifying at this hearing, second witness Ostoja Macanovic said that he was in Trnovo until August 1992 and that he was then transferred to military police with the Command in Kalinovik and then to Lukavica.

He said that, while he was in Kalinovik, he heard that Zoran Bjelica was in Montenegro, adding that he did not see him from May 1992 to 1994.

Although the Defence of Zoran Bjelica planned to examine three more witnesses at this hearing, the hearing was interrupted due to bad health condition of indictee Marinko Bjelica. The Chamber called an ambulance in order to help indictee Bjelica, who complained of heavy breathing and swelling of legs.

It is planned that new witnesses will testify in defence of Zoran Bjelica on January 21.
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