Jezik / Language:
30 January 2014

Key Incident in Hambarine

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH Haag

Radovan Karadzic, former leader of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, continues proving that “Muslim extremists” caused war conflicts in Prijedor municipality in the spring of 1992 by examining witness Ratko Milojica.

Milojica described an incident in Hambarine village, near Prijedor, on May 22, 1992, which, according to Karadzic’s Defence, marked the beginning of conflict in that municipality.

According to the charges, from May 23 Serb forces conducted “a cleansing” operation of areas in the Hambarine surroundings, killed a certain number of Muslims and deported or detained thousands of local residents in Omarska detention camp, where crimes were committed against them.

Milojica said that, being a solder on leave, he and five friends of his were passing through Hambarine by car, when Muslim forces stopped them at a check-point.

Milojica said that, following a brief conversation about handing their weapons over, fire was opened towards the Serbs in the car. Three of them were killed, while three, including the witness, were severely wounded.

During the cross-examination Prosecutor Amir Zec suggested that Serb soldiers had previously refused Muslims’ request to hand their weapons over. The witness responded by saying that it was not true.

Milojica confirmed that Aziz Aliskovic, one of the Muslim leaders at the checkpoint, was captured and killed later on and that his body was exhibited publicly.

Prosecutor Zec played a movie, depicting Serb soldiers sitting, listening to music and drinking beer in the vicinity of Aliskovic’s corpse, saying: “Aziz will not be here every day. You can only see him in your town today”.

Milojica was not able to recognise Aliskovic on the recording, saying that he “looked differently”.

Karadzic, former President of Republika Srpska, is charged with the persecution of Muslims and Croats throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, which reached the scale of genocide in seven municipalities, including Prijedor.

Prosecutor Zec tried to undermine the witness’ credibility by indicating that he was involved in killing a Catholic priest in Ljubija.
He quoted Milojica’s statement given to RS military police, in which he said that he was present, along with other soldiers, when the priest was robbed and escorted to the Ljubija mine, where Ivica Pavlovic killed him from Milojica’s rifle.

Milojica denied the statement in the courtroom, although he confirmed that it contained his signature.

When asked what really happened, he said that he was in a car, that Pavlovic took the priest out of the car to a location “about a hundred metres away” and shot at him.

“We were not there, close to him, at all…It is not true that he shot him from my rifle. I did not have a rifle at all at that moment, as I was on sick leave after the Hambarine event,” Milojica said.

The trial of Karadzic, who is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terror against civilians in Sarajevo and taking UNPROFOR members hostage, is due to continue on Monday, February 3. 

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