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24 August 2009
News

Pelemis and Peric: Indictee’s orders

BIRN BiH
Two Prosecution witnesses say what orders they were given after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.      
Radivoje Lazarevic, a courier with the First Battalion of Zvornik Brigade, confirmed having been ordered by indictee Slavko Peric in July 1995, after the fall of Srebrenica, to inform the working squad to go to the road, where they would be “collected by a driver and taken to Branjevo”. 

“I received the order and the list of members of the working squad from Slavko Peric personally. He was the one who issued all orders to me. My task was to inform the people, whose names were included in the list, to come to the road. I was told that those people would be collected by a driver, who would then take them to Branjevo. I know that those were not soldiers but older men, who could no longer go to the battlefields. They were used for some secondary physical labour,” the witness said, adding that this “was all I know”. 

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Momir Pelemis, former Deputy Commander and Chief of Headquarters of the First Battalion with the Zvornik Brigade, and Slavko Peric, former Assistant Commander for Security, with having participated in the murder of about 1,200 captured Srebrenica residents on July 15 and 16, 1995. The indictment alleges that the captured Srebrenica residents were first held in “Kula” school building in Pilica, from which they were transferred to Branjevo military farm. 

Nedeljko Lazic, driver and car mechanic with the First Battalion of Zvornik Brigade, testified at this hearing. He confirmed having received an order, conveyed by a courier after the fall of Srebrenica, to “collect some people who were standing by the road” and drive them to the Cultural Centre in Pilica, in Zvornik municipality. 

“They were old people. There were about seven or eight of them. Not more than that. None of us knew why we were going to Pilica. My task was to leave them by the Cultural Centre and wait until they finish some works,” Lazic said.

During the further course of his testimony Lazic said that he came to the Cultural Centre in Pilica by his truck, and “unloaded the working squad members”. 

“The place smelled so bad that I could hardly believe it. The whole area smelled awfully bad. I realized that there were many dead people inside the Centre. I could not stand the smell. I had to go away, so I went to a nearby coffee shop. I stayed there for a couple of hours. I vomited. I drank and I waited for those people to take them back home. I did not see anything. On my way back they said they had loaded dead people into a truck. They said the truck went to Branjevo. The people were dirty, bloody and quiet. It was awful,” the witness recalled. 

The State Prosecution charges the two indictees with planning and instigating the murder committed in the Pilica Centre in Zvornik municipality, in which about 600 men were detained, on July 15 and 16, 1995. The indictment alleges that, following the execution, Peric gave instructions to his soldiers, on July 17, 1995, “to remove and transport the bodies” of killed Bosniaks from the Centre to the Branjevo military farm. 

The trial is due to continue on September 10, when one more Prosecution witness will be examined.
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