Jezik / Language:
12 May 2008

Trbic: Burying the killed

A former member of Zvornik Brigade claims that he did not see indictee Milorad Trbic in July 1995 and that he did not know what his function was at the time.

Testifying as Milorad Trbic's Defence witness, Slavko Bogicevic, former assistant commander for morale with the Engineering Squad of Zvornik Brigade, the Republika Srpska Army (VRS), said that he did not have any contact with the indictee in July 1995 and that he did not know what his function was.

The State Prosecution charges Milorad Trbic, as assistant commander for security with the VRS Zvornik Brigade and the officer-in-charge of the Military Police Squad, with having participated in the forcible resettlement of Bosniaks from Srebrenica from July 11 to November 1, 1995 and in their execution and burial of their bodies.

Bogicevic said that, on July 11, 1995 he found out that "Srebrenica had fallen" and that "some prisoners" had been taken in that municipality. However, he "did not know exactly where they were housed."

"I know that one group was supposed to be taken to the school in Orahovac, while the other should have been taken towards Kozluk. I do not know who guarded them, as I was not there. Later on I heard that they had been killed," Bogicevic said.

The indictment alleges that, on July 13 and 14, 1995 Milorad Trbic "controlled the exit of Bosniak civilians from the enclave," by participating in the organisation of transport, detention and guarding of Bosniak men from Srebrenica, who were taken by buses and trucks from Bratunac to the detention centres in the schools in the Zvornik area.

The witness also said that, from July 14, 1995 onwards, "machines were deployed," which belonged to the engineering squad. Those machines were sent to Orahovac as per an order issued by Major Dragan Jokic.

"None of the soldiers was willing to talk and I did not ask them anything but we somehow knew that they were going to bury the killed men," the witness said.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) sentenced Dragan Jokic, former commander of the Engineering Squad with Zvornik Brigade, to nine years imprisonment for crimes committed in Srebrenica.

During cross-examination, Prosecutor Kwai Hong Ip asked Bogicevic if he could confirm the statement given by several witnesses in the Hague, who, among other things, accused him of "having been deputy commander of the Engineering Squad and of having given orders to deploy the machines for digging of graves, even before the murders were committed".

The witness denied these allegations by saying that he neither had the authority "to issue any orders" nor did he perform that particular function.

Ip then quoted a part of the witness' statement given to the ICTY investigators in June 2002, when he said that he knew "for sure that the Engineering Squad members did not participate in the burial."

"That is what I said at the time, but I am saying now that they did go there and performed the job," said Bogicevic, but he did not give any explanation as to why he changed his statement.

The trial is due to continue on May 19, 2008, when two new Defence witnesses are to be examined.

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