Jezik / Language:
23 November 2015

Witnesses Say Police Forces Escorted Group of Captives to Lokanj

Amer Jahic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial of nine former members of Bosnian Serb military and police forces, a state prosecution witness said he and other police officers from Ugljevik participated in escorting ten captives to Lokanj in July 1992. The defendants have been charged with war crimes in the Zvornik area.

The defendants, Goran Maksimovic, Ljlilan Mitrovic, Slavko Peric, Mile Vujevic, Vukasin Draskovic, Gojko Stevanovic, Cvjetko Popadic, Rajo Lazarevic and Mico Manojlovic, have been charged with abducting, detaining and attacking 76 Bosniak civilians in the municipality of Zvornik. 67 of them were allegedly killed by the defendants at various locations.

Maksimovic was the commander of the Interventions Unit of the Ugljevik public safety station and Mitrovic was his deputy. Peric was the commander of the Lokanjska Company of the Zvornicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army. The other defendants were members of that company.

Pero Ignjatovic, a former member of the Interventions Squad of the public safety station in Ugljevik, testified at today’s hearing. Ignjatovic said he and a few other members of the squad patrolled a forest near Lokanj after having heard shooting in the morning.

“We came across a group of captured civilians, soldiers and people. There were about 50 of them,” Ignjatovic said. He said the captives were surrounded by Serb soldiers.

Ignjatovic said some soldiers mistreated the captives and that police officers started searching them. Ignjatovic said Ivan Stevanovic decided that a group of ten captives, including women and children, should be taken to Lokanj.

Ignjatovic said they found a grenade during their search of the captives. Out of fear of the grenade activating, they decided to take the captives they’d already searched to Lokanj.

Ignjatovic said an inspector from the public safety station in Ugljevik examined the captives in Lokanj. He said defendants Goran Maksimovic and Ljiljan Mitrovic were in the village, as well as the chief and commander of the Ugljevik public safety station.

Ignjatovic was asked whether Maksimovic was the commander of the Interventions Squad.

“He coordinated and brought us orders from the commander and chief,” Ignjatovic said.

Prosecutor Dika Omerovic asked who was the squad commander in the field.

“Well, it was Goran [Maksimovic],” Ignjatovic said.

Ignjatovic said he saw Mitrovic in passing in the afternoon, after the captives had been brought to the village.

Ignjatovic explained how the Interventions Squad ended up in Lokanj. He said they were ordered to go to the nearby village of Gornja Krcina to prevent the theft of cattle. He said they then went to Lokanj to explain their orders to the locals, to prevent any incidents.

He said they stayed in Lokanj overnight because it was dark. He said they heard shooting on the following morning. They then went to the woods and found the captives.

Ignjatovic said he didn’t know who told them to go to Lokanj. Prosecutor Omerovic said that in a statement he had given during the investigation phase of the case, he had said they went to Lokanj as per Maksimovic’s orders.

“I didn’t say that. They wrote it incorrectly,” Ignjatovic said.

Jovan Gajic’s examination began at this hearing. Gajic answered most of the questions posed to him by saying he didn’t know or didn’t remember. Omeric then described a statement Gajic had given during the investigation phase of the case.

In his previous statement, Gajic said he was working in a warehouse in Lokanj, when police brought in the captives. The captives were detained in a hall. When asked whether the command was situated in that location, Gajic said, “It was a meeting point for those who were associated with Lokanj.”

Gajic said the civilians were taken out and killed later on, but he didn’t know who the perpetrators were.

The trial will continue on November 30, when the defense teams will examine Gajic.

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