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1 February 2016
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Witness in Stanarevic Trial Unaware of Murders in Ripac

Srdjan Kureljusic BIRN BiH Sarajevo

Testifying at the trial of Zeljko Stanarevic, a former member of the Bosnian Serb Army charged with crimes committed in the Bihac area, a defense witness said he hadn’t heard of wartime murders in Ripac.

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.

Testifying at today’s hearing via video link from Belgrade, defense witness Sasa Curguz said he was a military police officer with the 15th Light Bihacka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army during June and July 1992, and joined the Reconnaissance Squad later on. Curguz said he didn’t see Stanarevic with the military police, but sometimes saw him in a military truck that was used for transporting people to Hrgar.

Responding to questions from the defense, Curguz said he had never heard any rumours about the defendant. He also said he never heard that any “soldiers were killed at Ripac.”

The prosecution asked Curguz about a protected witness known as S-1, a former member of the military police, who previously testified at this trial. During his testimony, S-1 said up to 15 people were transported from Ripac to a grove by truck. He said he then heard a burst of gunfire and shouting. He said he then saw two or three dead bodies. S-1 also said he saw the defendant, as well as two men named Pigo and Curguz, on the truck afterwards.

Curguz said he used to see S-1 with superior military police officers, who had the authority to issue orders to the military police.

The defense previously asked the court to allow for the examination of Dragan Dopudja, whom the state prosecution charged alongside Stanarevic. Dopudja currently lives in Serbia. The trial chamber has been informed by authorities in Belgrade that Dopudja cannot testify, because he was previously included in the same criminal and legal proceedings as Stanarevic.

Curguz said he knew Dragan Dopudja, but said he believed he didn’t participate in the attacks, because no such rumours were circulating.

The trial will continue on February 8.

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