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22 March 2016
News

Naser Oric Trial: Witness Recalls Serbs’ Surrender

Marija Tausan BIRN BiH Sarajevo
A prosecution witness at the war crimes trial of Bosniak commander Naser Oric, accused of killing three Serbs, testified that Serb troops were captured by the defendant in July 1992.
Witness Milomir Lazarevic told Oric’s trial at the state court in Sarajevo on Tuesday that a group of Serb soldiers were captured in the village of Zalazje, where one of the crimes listed in the indictment allegedly was committed, after fierce fighting on July 12, 1992.

Lazarevic said that the fighting between Serb and Bosniak forces began in the morning, and that he and five other Serb soldiers withdrew to the attic of a house in the afternoon because they had run out of ammunition.

“At around 5.15 pm, six or seven [Serb] men who were in the neighbouring house began surrendering. We did not even know they were in the house. We saw nothing… We heard a soldier say: ‘Mr. Naser, here is Slobodan Ilic [one of the captured Serb troops],’” Lazarevic testified.

“One of [the Bosniak troops] wanted to beat [Serb soldier] Milisav Ilic. We heard Naser [Oric] say: “Don’t beat him. We are neither Chetniks nor Ustashas. They will be tried by a court martial,’” he said.

Lazarevic said he had never even heard of Oric before. When asked how he knew it was Oric, the witness said the Bosniak soldiers addressed him by his name and one of his own troops said: “This must be Naser.”

The witness mentioned he heard trucks arriving later on and Oric lining people up, telling them they would go to Srebrenica.

Oric, the former commander of a Bosnian Army unit in Srebrenica, is on trial together with Sabahudin Muhic, a member of the unit, for the murders of three Serb captives in the villages of Zalazje, Lolici and Kunjerac in the Srebrenica and Bratunac area.

Responding to the defence’s questions, Lazarevic confirmed that Serb forces held several positions in Zalazje village on July 12 and that they had heavy weaponry. He also said he did not hear moaning or screaming when the Serbs surrendered to the Bosniaks.

Also on Tuesday, Oric’s defence introduced a series of documents in an attempt to undermine the credibility of protected prosecution witness O-1, who testified last month that he saw the defendants participate in the killing of three captives.

These included entries from the criminal register and ongoing investigations against O1, and documents from military records intended to dispute the witness’s claims about his wartime service.

But the prosecutor objected to many of the proposed pieces of evidence, particularly a set of documents referring to a revision of war veterans’ lists, indicating that O1 was not a member of the Bosnian Army.

The trial will continue on April 5.

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