Samardzija: Tears and memories

13. June 2006.15:09

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Prosecutors have come to the end of their case against the former Bosnian Serb soldier Marko Samardzija, accused of taking part in murders of Bosniaks in Kljuc municipality during the war.

On June 12, the court heard evidence from local resident Dzemka Crnovic. Crnovic recalled seeing Samardzija in the area on July 10, 1992,when prosecutors say Bosniaks were taken from the villages of Sanica, Donji Biljani, Domazeti, Botonjici, Jabukovac and Brkici to Biljane and another site, and some were executed.

Crnovic told the court that on that day, she saw the accused standing with a number of other soldiers in front of her uncle’s house in Sanica.

“I don’t know what they were doing there, but they were armed,” she said.

A second witness, Aziz Gromilic, a Bosniak policeman from Bihac, told the court about his questioning of another Bosnian Serb soldier, Borislav Jokic, who was captured on the battlefield in 1993.

Jokic, the witness said, revealed that Samardzija was the commander of the Sanica battalion of the Army of the Republika Srpska, VRS, and that he was responsible for ethnic cleansing in the area.

According to the witness, Jokic said he had learned from other soldiers that villages were burnt and the men taken away to detention camps. Jokic also apparently said he had heard that “members of Marko’s company had taken part”.

“He said to me that they took some men and brought them to the primary school in Biljane,” Gromilic testified, in an apparent reference to the events of July 10, 1992. “Some men were killed and the others were transported by buses to the camps and then killed and buried in the mass grave at Laniste.”

Having called these two witnesses, the prosecutors said it only remained to bring six witnesses back to court on June 13 in order to clarify evidence that they have already provided in the trial.

On June 13, during additional questioning by the prosecutor Vesna Ilic, the witnesses who previously testified before the court again identified the indictee Marko Samardzija and confirmed the counts of the indictment against him.

They all said that on July 10, 1992, Samardzija – a Bosnian Serb who used to be an Army of Republika Srpska soldier- took Bosniak men from the villages of Donji Biljani, Domazeti, Botonjici, Jabukovac and Brkici to the elementary school in the village Biljani before taking them to Laniste, where they were killed and buried in mass graves.

Prosecution witness Nesma Avdic claims that on July 10, 1992, she saw the indictee taking the detained men.

“I saw everything. Armed soldiers dressed in uniforms were everywhere, and Samardzija was among them,” Avdic, whose son Elvir was killed that day, said through tears.

The witnesses said that the men were first forcefully taken to the meadow Jezerine “for questioning”, and then taken in lines through the villages to the elementary school.

“They also took my son. Samardzija followed the line of people,” Sedika Botonjic remembered. The prosecution witness was visibly upset and in tears because she lost her 13-year-old son Nihad that day. His remains were found in 1996 in a mass grave at Laniste.

Botonjic said that the women who stayed in the villages in the night after the men were taken listened to the sounds of trucks and dredges. Later, they found out that the vehicles were used to collect the bodies of the murdered men and take them to the mass grave where they were then buried.

Prosecution witnesses Seida Malagic, Amira Dzaferovic and Senada Avdic also confirmed that they saw Marko Samardzija following the line of detained men.

“I personally saw him follow my neighbours with a shotgun,” Seida Malagic told the court.

The court announced that the judgement against Samardzija will be pronounced on September 8 this year. The continuation of the main hearing is scheduled for July 11.

This post is also available in: Bosnian