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25 May 2009
News

Bastah et al: Movement of People

BIRN BiH
A witness, testifying for the first indictee's Defence, says the Crisis Committee in  Vlasenica was not responsible for the work of police and military structures in that town.  
Bozo Milic, former President of the Executive Committee of Vlasenica Municipal Assembly, said that in April 1992 "after the beginning of the disorder in Vlasenica", a Crisis Committee was formed, the main function of which was "to normalize the civil sector in the town".

"The Crisis Committee was formed very late, after the Army had occupied Vlasenica. At the time there was total disorder in the streets. Some people wearing stockings or hats on their heads appeared in the town in those days. They were certainly not from Vlasenica, but they were members of some paramilitary groups. Everybody was scared of them," Milic said.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Predrag Bastah with having participated, as a reserve policeman, in collaboration with Goran Viskovic, a former member of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in the deportation, torture and murder of Bosniaks in Vlasenica in the course of 1992.

The indictees are charged with "committing actions that contributed to the functioning of a detention camp system" in Susica detention camp and other prisons in the town. 

Milic said that in April 1992 there was a mass "movement of people, as Serbs started coming from Kladanj and Zenica and Muslims started leaving Vlasenica".

"The Committee was responsible for economics only. Due to the large number of refugees, we established a committee for refugees. Besides that, there was a military and police structure, but they were not incorporated in the Committee. Those instances would just provide us with information, but orally, not in writing. We could never issue any instructions," Milic said.

The witness added that he knew of the murder of a certain number of Bosniaks in the villages surrounding Vlasenica, saying that "the Crisis Committee could not have prevented those, because it lacked basic instruments".

Answering questions pertaining to the establishment of Susica detention camp, Milic said that the Crisis Committee did not take part in its establishment, but he was not able to confirm whether this happened as per an order received from the military or police structures.

"I am ashamed, but it was only later that I found out about the existence of the concentration center. It was formed as a result of the arrival of a large number of people in the town. We were told that Bosniaks were safe in it," Milic said.

The witness told the Court that he had known Bastah from before the war, describing him as "a guy who greeted everybody", but he was not able to say anything about his duties during the war.

The next hearing is due to take place on May 28, 2009.

 
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