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7 May 2015

Witnesses Describe Capture of Bosnian Serb Soldiers in Gorazde

Albina Sorguc BIRN BiH Sarajevo
A prosecution witness testifying at the trial of four Bosnian soldiers, said he communicated with a Bosnian Serb soldier, captured by the defendants at the Trovrh relay station, for the last time on August 23, 1992.
The District Prosecution in Eastern Sarajevo has charged Muhamed Adzem, Omer Ugljesa, Senad Halilovic and Suljo Karkelja, former members of the Bosnian Army, with participating in the murder of seven prisoners of war on September 17, 1992. The prisoners of war were all members of the Bosnian Serb Army.

According to the charges, the Bosnian Serb soldiers were captured on August 21, 1992 and were then detained in the municipal secretariat for internal affairs in Gorazde. The captives were then allegedly taken to Ladjeva Stijena in the village of Kopaci, where they were killed.

Dalibor Neskovic, a former communications officer who served with the Gorazdanska Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, testified at the trial and described his communications with a soldier who had surrendered to the defendants.

“At around noon, he [the surrendered soldier] informed that they were negotiating with the enemy side and that they would be exchanged in Foca if they surrendered. So they decided to surrender,” Neskovic said.

Neskovic said he heard later on that they had been taken to a police station and then to a silo, and that they had been killed and dumped into the Drina river.

Zahir Sogolj, a former member of the Bosnian Army, also testified at this trial. He told the court that an attack aimed at taking over Trovrh took place in late August 1992 and lasted two days. He said a member of his unit was killed at the relay station in Trovrh, where fighting took place between Bosnian and Bosnian Serb forces.

He said he went to his home in the village of Slatina afterwards, where he heard that men had been captured at Trovrh and would be escorted through the village.

“I was standing at the gate. There were five men. They were surrounded by members of my battalion, who were armed. They managed to protect them from being physically assaulted by the locals, who were yelling, ‘criminals, murderers,’” Sogolj said.

He said the group had participated in an attack on Kokino Selo in the municipality of Gorazde, where war crimes had been committed.

Enes Starhonic, the third witness for the prosecution, said he went to the silos where the captives were held and spoke to them. He said he brought food to one of the captives, whose brother-in-law was a Muslim.

According to Starhonic, the captives were held in the silo for approximately seven to ten days.

Starhonic said he heard that one of the captives hung himself in the silo, and described the various rumours that circulated about the seven other captives – some said they were taken to Gorazde or Zenica, some said they were killed by a grenade and others said they were killed at Ladjeva Stijena.

The trial will continue on May 21.
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