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29 November 2010
News

Pelemis and Peric: Revenge for Crime

BIRN BiH

At the trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica, a former member of the First Battalion with Zvornik Brigade testifies in defence of indictee Slavko Peric, saying that the murder of Bosniaks in the Cultural Center was probably committed as revenge for the murder of Serbs in 1992.

Branko Jeftic said that he was not informed about detainees who were killed in the Cultural Center in Pilica because he was "in the field in the vicinity of Zepa" in July 1995.

Jeftic is the former Assistant Commander of Background Issues with the First Battalion of Zvornik Brigade with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS.

"Somebody brought those detainees, somebody detained them and somebody killed them. I did not hear about any members of the First Battalion having participated in it," Jeftic said.

The witness told the Court he considered the detainees were murdered "in revenge" for crimes committed against Serbs in that area in 1992, adding that "senior officials should be brought to trial for those crimes, instead of ordinary soldiers who just executed their orders".

The witness testified in defence of Slavko Peric, who is charged, together with Momir Pelemis, with genocide committed in Sebrenica in July 1995.

The indictment alleges that Pelemis, former Deputy Commander of the First Battalion, and Peric, former Assistant Commander for Security, participated in the murder of about 1,200 Srebrenica residents on the Branjevo military farm and about 600 men in the Cultural Center in Pilica on July 15 and 16, 1995.

The indictment alleges that the detainees were first been held in the Kula school building in Pilica and Peric, acting with Pelemis' consent and under his command, found members of the First Battalion and deployed them to the area to guard it.

Jeftic said that the First Battalion's demand for supplies "was as usual" on July 15, 1995, adding the Battalion did not request additional ammunition or fuel supplies from the Command.

"The First Battalion of the VRS' Zvornik Brigade usually asked for 50 liters of oil, 20 liters of petrol and 12 crates of ammunition for its soldiers on the frontlines. Oil and petrol were used for transporting soldiers, while the mentioned quantity of ammunition was a usual thing," Jeftic said.

The Defence of Peric also examined Stevo Petrovic at this hearing. Petrovic was Commander of the First Battalion with VRS Zvornik Brigade from July 1992 to April 1994.

The witness said that the Assistant Commander for Security with the First Battalion did not have the authority to make independent decisions, unless the Commander or his Assistant ordered him to do so.

"The First Battalion members followed this procedure while I was there. I do not think any changes were introduced later on. I think that Peric was not able to do anything unless he received an order from his Commander, Milan Stanojevic," Petrovic said.

The witness said that he found out about the murders committed in the Cultural Center in Pilica upon his return from Nisici plateau in August 1995.

"I heard many things, but people tend to say all sorts of things. I was not much interested in that. I would honestly rather not talk about it here today," the witness said.

The trial is due to continue on December 1.

D.E.

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