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23 September 2014
News

Defendant Was Driver and Mechanic

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
First defence witnesses told the trial for genocide in Srebrenica that defendant Aleksandar Cvetkovic was a driver and that he did not participate in sabotage.
Ratko Tomic said that he was mobilised as a guard in the base of the 10th Reconnaissance Squad in Dragasevac (municipality of Vlasenica). Members of all ethnicities were in the squad. In the Vlasenica squad, to which he belonged, there was a good atmosphere and everyone were getting along, he said.

"The main headquarters of the Bosnian Serb Army issued orders, and Miso Pelemis, commander of the squad, was deciding who was going on the ground," Tomic said, adding that guards were never sent into action.

Witness said that defendant Aleksandar Cvetkovic was a driver and mechanic, but that he was in privileged position in the unit, because of the status his parents had in the area. According to the witness, drivers were not given guns.

"He did not participate in actions... He was often going to Serbia to get help for soldiers," Tomic said, adding that Cvetkovic did not go to the operation "Srebrenica tunnel", because he remembers that he went back from Serbia on July 12 or 13.

The witness replied to the question of the presiding judge Darko Samardzic by saying that he remembered that date, because he was on duty, but he could not remember who was going to the field or was in the base on July 16, when he was also on duty.

Tomic added that Cvetkovic was good, communicative, and that he liked to joke. He remembered that he had a row with Drazen Erdemovic, because of his wife, since Cvetkovic was driving through the woods for her in Bijeljina.

Cvetkovic, a former member of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad of the Bosnian Serb Army, is charged with having participated in the execution of more than 900 men and boys from Srebrenica on July 16, 1995.

After pleading guilty for Branjevo crimes, Erdemovic was sentenced to five years in prison, and he was freed in 2000 after serving his sentence.

During the hearing from March 18 Drazen Erdemovic's statement was read out in court. He said that Cvetkovic was among eight members of the Reconnaissance Squad, who participated in the execution of Bosniak prisoners from Srebrenica area.

Another witness at this hearing was Milosav Tomic, who said that he was driver in the 10th Reconnaissance Squad, along with Aleksandar Cvetkovic, among others.

He explained that drivers did not take part in sabotage actions, and that their task was to drive the army into the mission they were not familiar with, and to take them back.

Tomic said that no driver was going to Srebrenica or Branjevo and he said that Cvetkovic had benefits and that he was often going to Belgrade, even to the matches  of Red Star Belgrade versus Partizan. I know, witness said, that Cvetkovic was not given the riffle, and he rarely carried a gun.

I know about the row between Erdemovic and Cvetkovic over Mrs. Erdemovic. Cvetkovic allegedly stayed longer at her place when he was driving through the woods. Erdemovic said, as it was said, he would take revenge, Tomic recalled, noting that different stories and anecdotes about the defendant circulated around.

The trial continues on October 14.
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