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8 February 2016
News

Stanarevic Only Encountered Ripac Prisoners by Chance

Emina Dizdarević BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying in his own defense, Zeljko Stanarevic said he didn’t participate in an attack on the Ljutocka Valley in the municipality of Bihac during the summer of 1992. He said he saw prisoners from a detention camp in Ripac once, when he was given a ride on a truck transporting the prisoners.

Zeljko Stanarevic, a former military policeman with the 15th Light Infantry Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, has been charged with participating in the persecution of Bosniak civilians. He has been charged with participating in the murder of 11 detainees held in a building in Ripac in June and July 1992.

Stanarevic said he was mobilized as a member of the military police of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) in April 1992. He said he was in Tihotina in the municipality of Bihac before being transferred to the Racic military barracks in June 1992.

He said he was working as a guard in Gorjevac during the attack on the Ljutocka Valley on June 11, 1992. He said after his brother was killed, he was transferred to the Uzljebici checkpoint.

“When I was in Uzljebici, I heard about some prisoners in the IMT workshop in Ripac,” Stanarevic said.

Stanarevic said he used to go to his home in the village of Lipa at the end of his shifts. When asked how he returned, he said he did so in various ways. He said a truck delivering food gave him a lift from the Uzljebici checkpoint to Ripac once.

While in Ripac, Stanarevic said he heard that the military police was driving Bosniak detainees out of the IMT workshop in order to exchange them.

“This happened about 20 days after my brother’s death. A truck was parked in front of the workshop. When I entered the factory complex, I met two guys and asked them if they were going to be exchanged. They said yes, but they were still waiting for some papers from the civil police. Detainees, some of whom were sitting and some lying down, were loaded onto the truck. They were tied up,” Stanarevic said. He said he didn’t participate in getting the detainees on the truck.

Stanarevic said Ratko Mihajlovic told him he could travel with the detainees. He said he went to the village of Gorjevac and got off the truck at a turn towards Hangar. He said he went home afterwards, carrying his automatic rifle.

Selver Vojic, the former president of the Association of Demobilized Soldiers from the municipality of Bihac, was the second witness to testify at today’s hearing. Vojic said he had known Stanarevic from before the war. He said he had spoken to eyewitnesses about who came to the Ripac detention camp to hit and assault detainees. He said none of the eyewitnesses he spoke to mentioned Stanarevic, although the victims and their families knew him.

Responding to questions from the prosecution during cross-examination, Vojic said he received his findings exclusively from detention camp survivors and the families of killed detainees. He said according to his findings, Stanarevic wasn’t present at the Bezdan Pit on Hrgar.

An additional state prosecution witness will be examined at the next hearing, scheduled for February 15.

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