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9 December 2010
News

Pelemis and Peric: Monitoring the Situation

BIRN BiH
A military expert witness testifies at the trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica and says that indictee Slavko Peric was in Pilica for security reasons, namely because the numerous prisoners brought to the village posed a threat to the local population.

Answering questions posed during the course of cross-examination, military analyst Radovan Radinovic, who testified in defence of Momir Pelemis, said that indictee Slavko Peric “monitored the situation” in Pilica, Zvornik municipality because prisoners who had been brought to Pilica posed a “risk to the village”.   

The expert witness said that Peric could not have questioned the prisoners because they had been brought by soldiers who were not members of the First Battalion of the Zvornik Brigade with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, but he confirmed that about ten other members of the First Battalion were in Pilica at that time.  

“The school building in Pilica, the Cultural Center and the Branjevo military farm were not in the zone of responsibility of the First Battalion,” the expert witness said, adding he had not found any documents detailing who issued the order to transport the prisoners from Bratunac to Pilica, execute them and remove their bodies.

Momir Pelemis, former Deputy Commander of the First Battalion with Zvornik brigade, and Slavko Peric, former Assistant Commander for Security, are charged 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 detained in the Kula school building in Pilica, while Peric, acting with Pelemis’ consent and under his command, found members of the First Battalion and deployed them to the area to guard it.

The expert witness said that the separation of men capable of military service in Potocari was “a legitimate action” because there was a list with the names of 387 people who had committed crimes against Serbs. Also, he said that nobody checked the identity of the captives who were executed later on.  

“The bodies were buried right away so they would not become sources of contamination. This was done by the Working Squad,” the expert witness said.   

Radinovic began presenting his findings and opinion on December 6. At today's hearing he again said that the Krivaja 95 operation, conducted by the Drina Corps in the Srebrenica area, could not be characterised as an attack on a protected zone.  

“VRS did not attack civilians, but rather the 28th Division of the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the course of the ‘Srebrenica’ operation, very few civilians were killed. Most victims were men capable of military service. I am not aware of any rapes committed at the time or the fact that bodies of eight-year old boys or men over the age of 80 were found in the graves.

"I have not come across any pieces of information confirming that there were any other victims besides the men capable of military service,” the expert witness said.   

He stressed that UNPROFOR could have prevented the murder of Srebrenica residents "if it had it wanted to”.  

“In my opinion, had the United Nations acted on time, the consequences would have not been the same. The persons who committed the murders are guilty, but the UN should have prevented them from committing the murders,” the expert witness said.  

In his testimony Radinovic said, among other things, that Ratko Mladic, former Commander of the VRS Main Headquarters who has been indicted by the Hague Tribunal and is currently a fugitive from justice, was “the most talented general who should have been allowed to win the war”.   

The trial is due to continue on December 17, when the Defence of indictee Slavko Peric will continue presenting evidence.

A.S.
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