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5 April 2016
News

Bosniak Commander Oric ‘Ordered Burning of Village’

Erna Mackic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Prosecution witnesses at the war crimes trial of the former Bosnian Army commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, said he captured Serbs then ordered his troops to torch a village in 1992.
Two prosecution witnesses told Oric’s trial in Sarajevo on Tuesday that the former Bosnian Army commander, who is accused of being responsible for killing three Serbs in 1992, captured Serb troops then told his men to set fire to houses in the village of Zalazje near Srebrenica.

Witness Vidoje Ilic said he was hiding in the attic of a house together with five other Bosnian Serb Army soldiers in the afternoon of July 12, 1992 and “watched what was happening through a hole”.

“I saw Naser Oric, who had a megaphone, congratulating his soldiers for having occupied some villages,” Ilic said.

One of Oric’s men said seven Serbs had surrendered and another shouted “Here is your judge”, Ilic testified.

He said the captured’ ‘judge’ was his cousin, Slobodan Ilic, one of the captives alleged to have been killed by Oric, who was a judge, according to witnesses.

Ilic said Oric then used the megaphone to ask other soldiers to burn the village by throwing gas bottles into the houses. The witness said he knew Oric because he used to go to school with his sister.

He said that the house in which he and his fellow Serb troops were hiding was set on fire and he suffered burns to his face and arms.

Oric is on trial together with former Bosnian Army soldier Sabahudin Muhic, accusing of killing three Serb captives in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac.

Witness Vidoje Ilic’s fellow soldier Milan Jeremic, who was hiding in the attic with him that day, said he did not see anything but heard Oric giving orders through the megaphone.

Jeremic testified that he heard Oric say: “Serbs, surrender. You stand no chance of getting out.”

He said Oric told his soldiers to burn the village but not to harm the captives, because they would be tried in Srebrenica.

When asked how he recognised Oric’s voice, the witness explained that the Bosniak commander introduced himself afterwards.

Jeremic however contradicted the previous witness, saying that none of the Serb soldiers hiding with him in the attic suffered burns.

During Tuesday’s hearing, the defence also read out a statement given by witness Ilic in 2005, in which he said he did not see anyone being captured. Ilic however insisted that his testimony in court was true.

The trial will continue on April 19.
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