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5 May 2009
News

Pelemis and Peric: Transporting Civilians from Potocari

BIRN BiH
A Prosecution witness says that civilians were transported on buses from Potocari to Kladanj in July 1995, adding that he took part in the operation.
Slobodan Djajic, a former bus driver, claims that Srebrenica residents were transported to the territory controlled by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina in July 1995. He said that they were transported on even on 27 buses that belonged to the Drina transport company from Zvornik, adding that several trips were organized. 

The witness said that the drivers were informed "by the dispatcher" that they had to come to Potocari. They were told that they would take part in transporting "Bosniaks to the Federation territory".

"Upon our arrival at Potocari, we saw all kinds of people - the military, policemen, reserve members of the Republika Srpska Army. They were gathering the people. I saw women, children and the elderly. They separated the men, taking them to a farm or a house, but I do not know who actually separated them from the others," said Djajic, testifying as a Prosecution witness at the trial of Momir Pelemis and Slavko Peric.

The State Prosecution charges Pelemis, Deputy Commander of the First Battalion with the VRS Zvornik Brigade, and Peric, Assistant Commander for Security with the same Brigade, with having "planned, ordered and helped" others commit the murder of about 1,200 men from Srebrenica, who were detained in the "Kula" school building in Pilica, and about 600 men detained in Pilica Center, Zvornik Municipality, on July 15 and 16, 1995.

Djajic said that military policemen loaded "women, children and sick people" onto buses in Potocari. He said the buses then headed towards Kladanjske luke.

"I performed these tasks for three days. On the first day I only drove once from Potocari to Kladanj. On the second day we asked for a police escort as it was rather tricky transporting a bus full of people. Even some women could have kidnapped us. On that day I made three trips. On the last, the third, day I drove to Kladanjske luke and back twice," Djajic said.

The witness said that after coming back on the third day the buses were sent to the school building in Bratunac to transport "Bosniak civilians and soldiers" to the "Kula" school building in Pilica.

"There were some soldiers and reserve soldiers and all kinds of people in front of the school building in Bratunac. The building was full of prisoners. There was a dead body in front of the building. They told us that somebody had jumped from a window. The soldiers then loaded the detained people onto our buses. There were about 50 of them in each bus. The convoy then headed towards Pilica," Djajic said.

Djajic told the Court that when he arrived at the school building in Pilica he saw "military policemen standing in front of the gate". He said the detainees were accommodated in the school building.

"We were told that they would stay there until some exchange was organized, but I do not know what happened to them afterwards. I went back to Zvornik taking some other road. I passed by the Pilica Center, but I did not see anything there," Djajic said.

The next hearing is due to take place on May 13, 2009.
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