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3 February 2014

Kos Recalls Executing Srebrenica Prisoners

Dzana Brkanic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
Convicted war criminal Franc Kos told the genocide trial of Aleksandar Cvetkovic how he and his fellow troops executed Bosniak prisoners from Srebrenica at a farm in Branjevo in 1995.
Convicted war criminal Kos told the Sarajevo court on Monday that he was at a Bosnian Serb base in Dragasevac on July 16, 1995 when security chief Ljubisa Beara phoned him and asked him to come to the command centre in Zvornik with seven other soldiers.

Kos said that he initially refused but was ordered to do so by three superior officers who then arrived, including Milorad Pelemis, commander of the 10th Reconnaissance Squad at the Bosnian Serb Army’s main headquarters, who is wanted by the Bosnian authorities on suspicion of involvement in the Srebrenica killings.

“They told me to go on a mission to guard the prisoners who will be exchanged. They said that we would have the instructions afterwards,” said Kos.

Ex-colonel Ljubisa Beara, the former chief of security with the Bosnian Serb Army’s main headquarters, was jailed for life for genocide by the Hague Tribunal in 2010.

Kos, a member of the Bosnian Serb Army’s member of the 10th Sabotage Squad, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for participating in the killings of at least 900 people from Srebrenica at Branjevo farm. Cvetkovic, also a former member of the 10th Sabotage Squad, is being tried for the same crime.

Kos said that he left in a van driven by a man he said was named Aca Cvetkovic, along with six other soldiers.

When they finally arrived at Branjevo, said Kos, an officer told them that “the prisoners should be killed because they are war criminals”.

The witness said a soldier called Goronja opened fire on about half the prisoners from the bus with a machine gun, wounding many of them.

“I did not see what others were doing. Personally, I was shooting people in the head,” said Kos.

The other prisoners were killed with automatic rifles, he said, with the total death toll reaching about 300.

Answering a question from the defence, Kos said that he did not see that Cvetkovic had a gun at Branjevo and that he did not see him shooting. The witness said that he found Cvetkovic in a stable when they were leaving Branjevo.

The trial will resume on February 4.
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