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15 February 2016
News

Witness Says He Saw Stanarevic With Captives, But Didn’t Mistreat Them

Emina Dizdarevic BIRN BiH Sarajevo
A state prosecution witness testifying at the Zeljko Stanarevic trial said he saw the defendant with captives in the vicinity of a bridge in Strbacki Buk in the municipality of Bihac during the summer of 1992.
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 as part of a widespread and systematic attack by the military and police on Ripac, Cukovi, Orasac, Klisa and Kulen-Vakuf in the municipality of Bihac.

He has been charged with participating in the murder of 11 detainees. He and other members of the Bosnian Serb Army allegedly transported them from a facility in Ripac to the Bezdan Pit in June and July 1992.

Rajko Smrzlic, a former policeman at the public safety center in Ripac in the municipality of Bihac, testified at today’s hearing. Smrzlic said on June 10 or 11, 1992, the station chief ordered him and a group of policemen to ensure public order in Orasac, Cukovi and Kulen Vakuf, because “an operation” had begun in those villages.

Smrzlic said he noticed barricades in Cukovi. He said he saw a dead body and one wounded person there.

Smrzlic said he and the other policemen then went to Orasac. There, he said he saw women and men detained in a school building as well as many soldiers.

He said he then returned to the station. On the following day, Smrzlic said he was informed that a group of soldiers had broken through the division line and had reached Doljani in the municipality of Bihac.


“When we arrived, we saw that a group of men had already been captured. They told us it was the commando group. There were about 12 or 13 captives. They were guarded by some soldiers. Military policemen were also present, but I don’t know what units they were...I know Stanarevic. As far as I can remember, he was there,” Smrzlic said.

Smrzlic said a truck came some time later and policemen were ordered to transport the captives to Ripac.

The prosecution presented Smrzlic with a report made during the investigation in March 2015. In that report, Smrzlic said he noticed a group of captives guarded by the military police in the vicinity of a bridge in Strbacki Buk - he said he saw Stanarevic there as well.

Smrzlic said he forgot to mention this, adding that there was another group of captives in the vicinity of the bridge. He said he heard they had been captured by the military police.

Responding to questions during cross-examination, Smrzlic said he didn’t see Stanarevic mistreat any captives. He said Stanarevic wasn’t doing anything in particular.

Trial chamber chair Mira Smajlovic said the next hearing would be scheduled at a later stage, as the court was waiting for a response from a Belgrade court on the possible examination of an additional defense witness via video link.
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