Jezik / Language:
26 August 2013

Alleged Blackmailing of a Witness

Amer Jahić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

During the trial for genocide in Srebrenica a State Prosecution witness says that he did not want to go to Petkovci, because he assumed that murders could be committed, just like in Orahovac, where he was in July 1995.

Witness Dragoje Ivanovic, former member of military police with the Zvornik Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, said that he was in Orahovac village, near Zvornik with a group of about ten military policemen following the fall of Srebrenica.
As he said, the witness heard about the happenings in Orahovac after having come to the Military Police head's office. The witness said that he heard that some men had been killed, while others had been taken away in order to be exchanged.
According to the witness, while he was in the Military Police base he heard that all those who were in Orahovac should go to Petkovci too. He said that he did not go despite that, adding that he thought that the others did not go to Orahovac either.
While giving a statement to the State Prosecution during the investigation in late 2011, Ivanovic had the status of a suspect for crimes in Orahovac. As he said, the prosecutor, who conducted the investigation at the time, “blackmailed” him.
“I was threatened by the prosecutor, who took my statement,” the witness said, adding that it happened when a dictaphone, which was used for recording his statement, was turned off.
He said that he heard, later on, that “murders of men from Srebrenica were committed in his home village Petkovci."
Ostoja Stanisic is charged, along with Marko Milosevic, with having participated in crimes committed on a dam in Petkovci, where about 1,000 men from Srebrenica were killed in mid-July 1995.
According to the charges, Stanisic was Commander of the Sixth Battalion with the Zvornik Brigade, while Milosevic was his Deputy.
The witness said that he did not hear that indictee Stanisic was associated with the captives or murders.
Second State Prosecution witness Srecko Vukovic spoke about the breakthrough by Srebrenica residents towards Nezuk in mid-July 1995 and two Srebrenica residents, whom he captured later on.
Vukovic, who belonged to the battalion commanded by Stanisic, was on a military position about a kilometre away from Nezuk, when the breakthrough began. He said that the shooting lasted the whole day and that up to 100 soldiers began fleeing, but Stanisic brought them back.
He said that, after that Stanisic “ran along the combat line and said that we should not shoot, as a cease fire was in effect”.
As he said, about ten days later the witness captured two wandering Srebrenica residents, who were then accommodated in a stable. He said at the trial that he did not know whether they were taken away in order to dig trenches, although he confirmed that during the investigation.
Explaining the difference in his testimonies, the witness said that Serbs, who were in Banovici, where he too was detained, were taken away in order to dig trenches and that the Srebrenica residents could have possibly been used for that too.
The witness did not find out what exactly happened to the captives, saying that he heard rumours that they were taken to Batkovici, near Bijeljina, or that they were released. When asked by Prosecutor Predrag Tomic how he knew that they were not killed, the witness said: “I do not know”. 
The trial is due to continue on September 4.

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