Jezik / Language:
8 June 2015

Ratko Goronja Trial Begins

Goran Obradovic BIRN Banja Luka
The Ratko Goronja trial began with a reading of the indictment, introductory statements and the examination of the first prosecution witnesses at the district court of Banja Luka.
Goronja has been charged with the murder of civilian named Dervic Selimic near Novi Grad in 1992. The prosecution claims that Goronja went to a school building in the village of Blagaj Japra, near Novi Grad, on June 9, 1992. He allegedly ordered Dervis Selimic to come with him and shot him with an automatic weapon.

In his introductory statement, prosecutor Mile Rosic said he would demonstrate that Goronja committed the murder.

Hamdija Selimic, Dervic Selimic’s step-brother, was the first witness to testify.

He said the Bosniak population living in the Japra area was ordered to leave in June 1992. He said he and others were lined up in front of a school building.

“A soldier lined us up in the morning. He separated the women and children and took them to an oak tree, while we stayed in front of the school. At first they told us to lie down and said they would run us over with a tank. Some time later Goronja came. I knew him from before. He invited my brother to come with him. I said, ‘Don't let anything happen,’” Selimic said.

According to Selimic, Goronja took Dervis Selimic away. A couple of minutes later gunshots were heard from that direction.

“Later on he returned and said to me, ‘What did you say to me again?’ I told him we were friends and asked him where my brother was. Then he said, ‘Kill me or else I'll kill you.’ He had a gun in his hands. At that moment Radenko Balaban, who was present, saved my life,” Selimic recalled.

Milan Hodzic, the second witness to testify, said he was born in Maslovare, near Novi Grad. Hodzic said he was a member of the Territorial Defense when Dervis Selimic was killed.

“When I came to the school building on that day, I saw Dervis and a few other neighbours, whom I knew. I approached them, sat on my rifle and spoke to them. It started raining some time later, so we moved underneath some eaves. Goronja then approached us and said, ‘Come on Dervis, they want you to come.’ Then he took him away. Hamdija asked me to go and check what happened. However, when I was halfway there, members of the reserve police forces sent me back,” Hodzic said.

Hodzic said rumours circulated among village residents that Goronja had killed Selimic and that they had quarreled with each other earlier at a wedding.

Also testifying at this hearing, Radoslav Marin said he heard that Dervis Selimic was murdered, while Ranko Gvozden said he heard rumours that someone named Goronja killed Selimic, but didn’t know whether his name was Ratko.

The trial will continue on July 7.

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