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2 July 2013
News

Six-hour Shooting on Branjevo

Radosa Milutinovic BIRN BiH Hague

Prosecution witness Drazen Erdemovic confirms at Ratko Mladic’s trial that he participated, in his capacity as member of the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, in the shooting of between 1,000 and 1,200 Muslim men from Srebrenica in July 1995.

Erdemovic said that he was on Branjevo farm near Pilica village, Zvornik municipality, on July 16, 1995 and that he and seven other members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad of VRS shot Bosniak captives who were brought by buses, as per an order by officer Brane Gojkovic.
 
He said that Gojkovic received instructions for the shooting from “a tall, big, grey-haired VRS Lieutenant Colonel”, who had brought them to Branjevo from Zvornik.

According to Erdemovic’s testimony, once the Lieutenant Colonel had left, the first group of captives arrived by bus. Men aged between 15 and 60, who were dressed in civil suits, blindfolded and tied, were taken out of the bus in groups of ten people, lined up on a meadow behind the farm building and shot from the back by members of the 10th Reconnaissance Squad.

Erdemovic told the Tribunal that, besides him, Brano Gojkovic, Franc Kos, Marko Boskic, Aleksandar Cvetkovic and Vladimir Golijanin participated in the shooting, among others.

The witness specified that his Unit shot Bosniaks, who were brought by 15 to 20 buses, from 10 a.m. until 3.30 or 4.00 p.m., when another unit from Bratunac took over the killing.

The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina sentenced Kos to 35 years in prison, Golijan to 15 and Boskic to ten years. Two years ago Cvetkovic was arrested in Israel. He is being held in an extradition detention unit.

The indictment charges Mladic, the then Commander of VRS, with genocide against more than 7,000 Srebrenica Muslims, as well as other crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

Erdemovic said that, once the shooting on Branjevo had been completed, the VRS Lieutenant Colonel appeared again and told them that “about 500 other captives should be executed” in Pilica village. However, according to Erdemovic’s testimony, members of the 10th Reconnaissance Squad refused to do it.  

The captives, who were held in the Cultural Centre in Pilica, were killed by soldiers from Bratunac instead. Erdemovic said that he saw bodies of some of the killed men and heard explosions and shooting from the Centre while sitting in a café across the street with other members of his Squad.

The witness confirmed that the 10th Reconnaissance Squad commanded by Milorad Pelemis was subordinate to the Main Headquarters of VRS, or actually Colonel Petar Salapura, Chief of the Intelligence Sector with the Main Headquarters.

According to Erdemovic, on July 11, 1995 Pelemis ordered a Squad member known as Zoki to kill a Muslim civilian in the Srebrenica downtown area. “Zoki slaughtered the civilian” in the presence of everyone.   

“Prior to entering Srebrenica, Pelemis ordered his soldiers not to attack civilians and bring all of them to the football stadium,” Erdemovic said.

Erdemovic was arrested in Serbia in 1996 after having told an American journalist about the crime on Branjevo. He was then extradited to The Hague. He admitted guilt before the Tribunal and reached a deal with prosecutors. He was sentenced to five years in prison. He completed serving his sentence in 2000.  

The Defence is due to cross-examine Erdemovic on July 3.
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