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14 October 2010
News

Pelemis and Peric: Black Uniforms and Hats

BIRN BiH

A Defence witness testifies at the trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica and says that about ten members of the First Battalion with the Zvornik Brigade were standing around the school building in Pilica when male prisoners were brought from Srebrenica, but they were not assigned any tasks.

Pero Pavlovic, former member of the First Battalion with the Zvornik Brigade of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, who testified for the Defence of Momir Pelemis, said he saw indictee Slavko Peric in the courtyard of a house located about 15 metres away from the Kula school building in Pilica, where the prisoners were held.
 
“I did not know the men who guarded the prisoners. Some of them were wearing civilian clothing, while others wore uniforms. Four or five men, who were dressed in black uniforms and had big hats bound underneath their chins, arrived later on,” Pavlovic said.
 
The indictment charges Pelemis, former Deputy Commander of the First Battalion, and Peric, former Assistant Commander for Security, with having participated in the murder of about 1,200 Srebrenica residents on Branjevo military farm and about 600 men in the Cultural Center in Pilica on July 15 and 16, 1995.
 
The indictment alleges that the prisoners were first held in the Kula school building in Pilica. It further alleges that Peric, with Pelemis’ consent and under his command, found and deployed members of the First Battalion to the area as guards.  
 
The witness recalled having been on the frontline, together with other members of the First Battalion, when they were told to go to the school building in which prisoners were held, but he did not understand this to be an order. He said they entered the school building only to “drink water”, but they saw the prisoners for the first time on the following day, when the men with hats arrived.
 
“We were on the road. They took two young men out. Ten more people came out later on. They told the two men to tie their hands with some cloths. I heard them say they were going to be exchanged,” Pavlovic said, adding that buses then drove the men from the school building.
 
The witness said that, upon his return to the frontline later on, he found out that the men had been killed on Branjevo military farm.
 
At this hearing Pelemis’ Defence also examined Miladin Radovanovic, former signalman with the First Battalion, who said he was in the communications center until July 15, 1995, but he could not remember having received a cable about prisoners from Srebrenica.
 
Radovanovic did not know anything about a cable that was received on July 15 either. In the cable, which was presented to him by the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the First Battalion asked for “50 liters of fuel for the transport of its members to Kula”.
 
The trial is due to continue on October 28.

M.T.

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