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18 November 2013
News

Babic against Volunteers

Džana Brkanić BIRN BiH Sarajevo

As the trial for crimes in the Bratunac area continues, Defence witnesses say that volunteers were responsible for detention and mistreatment of Bosniaks and that indictee Savo Babic had nothing to do with it.

First Defence witness Rodoljub Djukanovic, who was President of the municipal Executive Council in Bratunac in mid April 1992, said that volunteers, who were commanded by a man known as Zan, arrived in Bratunac in that period of time.

“It was the time of disorder, chaos, arrival of refugees, sporadic incidents and tense situation,” Djukanovic said.

According to his testimony, volunteers behaved in a haughty manner. A crisis committee, whose member he was, was established soon after that. It made a decision on expelling the paramilitary formations from Bratunac.

As said by Djukanovic, they did not manage to implement the decision.

“Savo Babic was neither member of the Crisis Committee, nor the SDS,” Djukanovic said, adding that a proposal was made for Babic to establish a unit, which would consist of “prominent” Bratunac citizens.
 
He said that he saw that Bosniaks were brought to the stadium and heard that volunteers then escorted a part of them to the school building. He also heard about the murders on the Drina River banks, which, as he said, were committed by volunteers, men without identity, whose nicknames were Makedonac, Bane, Djole.

“Savo Babic did not participate in that. He faced problems, because he opposed the volunteers,” Djukanovic said.

Prosecutor Predrag Tomic tried to deny the credibility of this witness, saying that Djukanovic testified in defence of Radovan Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, RS, who is on trial before The Hague Tribunal for genocide and other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Savo Babic, former Commander of military police with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in Bratunac, with having ordered, committed and failed to prevent the detention of non-Serb civilians in “Vuk Karadzic” school building in Bratunac in May 1992.

Stojan Milovanovic and Miodrag Josipovic, former members of military police commanded by Savo Babic, testified at this hearing as well.

Milovanovic said that they were unarmed and that they did not have equipment and belts, adding that they certainly did not participate in any operations in Hranca, Glogova and other villages.

He said that Babic confronted the volunteers and that he personally saw that.

“He shouted, so everybody could hear him. He said that nobody should be arrested or killed without a court decision ordering that,” Milovanovic said.

Witness Josipovic said that they were prohibited from entering the school building in Bratunac and that the volunteers had the supreme authority.

Josipovic said that Miroslav Deronjic once told him to go and bring Babic from his house.

He asked Babic to inform people in the school building that they would be exchanged, because everybody else was uncomfortable doing it due to the way they treated the detainees.  

In 2003 The Hague Tribunal sentenced Deronjic to ten years in prison after he had admitted guilt for the death of more than 60 Bosniaks from Glogova village in May 1992. Deronjic died in a prison in Sweden in 2007.

Last Defence witness Grozda Francic said that she had known Babic for 40 years and that he helped her during the war and saved her husband and son, who were Croats.

“He helped Muslims. He protected four Muslim houses in our street,” Francic said, adding that his wife used to bring food to her Muslim neighbours.
 
The Chamber excluded the public when the witness described how volunteers mistreated Babic’s family.
The presentation of Defence’s evidence was completed with the introduction of material evidence, including, among others, a certificate, confirming that Babic was not a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, SDS, prior to 1995.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina is due to present its closing statement on December 2.
 

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