The End of Prosecution Case

12. June 2009.00:00
The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina completes its six-month long presentation of evidence at the trial of Radomir Vukovic and Zoran Tomic, who are charged with genocide committed in Srebrenica.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

The State Prosecution completed its six-month presentation of evidence against Radomir Vukovic, known as “Vojvoda” (“The Duke”) and Zoran Tomic, known as “Zgembo”, after having questioned 19 witnesses and one court expert.

The first Defence witnesses are due to appear before the Court on June 12.

The indictment charges Vukovic and Tomic, former members of the Second Special Police Squad from Sekovici with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, MUP RS, with genocide committed on July 13, 1995, when more than 1,000 men from Srebrenica were killed in the Agricultural Cooperative in Kravica, Bratunac Municipality.

“Between 15 and 17 buses came, bringing about 1,200 Bosniaks, who were detained in the hangars. It was a quiet day but then we heard a short burst of shooting; that created hell. The detainees rushed out of the hangar, shouting ‘Allahu akbar!’. They pushed their way forward. Serb soldiers started shooting at them,” said Luka Markovic, Manager of Kravica Cooperative.

One of the two survivors of the shooting recalled that there were so many people in the hangar that, if someone had thrown a match into the hangar it would not have fallen to the ground but would have stopped on someone’s shoulder.

“When the last man entered the warehouse they started shooting. We did not know who was shooting or which weapon was used. There were bomb explosions and rifle fire. I lay down on the concrete floor, waiting to be killed. People were crying for help, but there was no humanity or help there. I did not say a word,” the survivor said, testifying as a protected witness under the pseudonym of D1.

D1 said that after the shooting had stopped, the soldiers transported those “who were not wounded” by truck in an unknown direction, killing the wounded.

“At some stage somebody started shouting: ‘Salko, Salko…’ They cursed his Turkish mother and killed him. Then somebody said: ‘Adila, water… Adila, water…’ After that they started collecting the dead bodies. I heard them saying to each other: ‘Cover the dead with hay. It is enough for today. Wash the asphalt.’,” said D1, who ran away, together with another survivor, during the night of July 14, 1995.

The indictment alleges that a number of actions preceded the murder of men in Kravica. Allegedly the indictees and other members of the Second Squad participated in these actions, which took place on July 12 and 13, 1995.

As alleged by Danilo Zoljic, former Commander of Special Police Units in Zvornik, as per a decision made by the RS Minister of Internal Affairs, the Second Squad was put under the command of “the Tactical Group, led by Ljubisa Borovcanin”, who is charged by the Hague Tribunal with genocide.

“On that day, July 12, I decided to visit our units in the field. I found myself in the vicinity of Potocari. Borovcanin informed me that we should search the village and buildings to see whether there were any civilians or armed groups that might cause incidents. I stayed there until our forces reached the top of the hill. I noticed that there were no problems,” Zoljic said.

Among other things the indictees are charged with having participated in the search of Bosniak villages in the vicinity of Potocari with the aim of finding their residents and escorting them to Potocari on July 12, 1995.

“We received an order to search the Muslim villages and if we found anybody we were to escort him to Potocari, where the UN Command was based. We did not find anybody, as we did not go to Potocari at all. I did not find out who the people held in Potocari were,” witness Slavisa Zugic, a former member of the Second Squad, said, confirming that the indictees were members of this Squad.

As alleged in the indictment and by numerous Prosecution witnesses, members of the Second Squad were then deployed in the vicinity of Sandici village, where they secured the road leading from Bratunac to Konjevic polje, which was taken by trucks and buses driving Bosniaks out of Srebrenica.

“We secured the road, making sure that it was passable. Only after having arrived at the location on that day did we find out that buses and trucks driving Muslims from Srebrenica to Kladanj would take that road. We were there for security reasons, and not because we wanted to stop the buses. It did not happen,” Mirko Asceric said.

Munira Subasic left Srebrenica after having joined the convoy of buses, driving mostly women and children. She said that the buses were stopped wherever some groups of people were seen, as well as by “the dead and slaughtered bodies, lying in trenches by the road”. Subasic said that “Serb soldiers” were telling the mothers: “This is the last time you see your children, as they will be killed…”

The witness was in Potocari together with her husband and son Nermin in July 1995. The two men disappeared. Her husband’s body was found and exhumed.

“They took away my Nerko. I wish I had died on July 12, 1995. However, I live to seek justice, not just for my own sake but for the sake of other women as well,” Subasic said.

The Prosecution charges Vukovic and Tomic with participation in the attacks on the convoy of Bosniaks, near the road leading from Bratunac to Konjevic polje, as well as forcing more than one thousand men to surrender, “by giving false promises that they would be exchanged”, and capturing them on July 13, 1995.

Enver Husic, who tried to escape from Srebrenica, together with his father and brother, on July 11, woke up in a forest near Sandici on July 13, 1995.

“We saw the road, blue helmets and Serbs, calling people to surrender, using a public address system.
They were saying: ‘You are surrounded’ or ‘Surrender’, promising that they would do us no harm, because the UN forces were there. Finally, we decided to surrender, mainly because of the UNPROFOR, but also because we were mentally exhausted from hiding in the woods,” Husic said.

The witness said that, after having come down from the hill, he saw a large number of soldiers, “searching and hitting Bosniaks, asking for money, jewelry or other valuables”.

“Those soldiers then took us to a meadow. There must have been one thousand of us there. The soldiers were vulgar, they cursed and treated people in a bad way. I saw some people, dressed in bullet-proof jackets and UNPROFOR helmets, among them. However, this was just a bait, as I realized right away that they were Serbs,” the witness said.

Husic said that he recognized indictee Zoran Tomic as the person, whom he saw “in the valley, while the people were searched, and on the meadow later on” on July 13, 1995.

This witness managed to run away from Sandici by hiding in a bus driving women, which briefly stopped on the road.

Witness Zoro Lukic said that he was standing by the road, just like indictee Tomic, the whole day, adding that “Muslims started surrendering in the morning”, but “no members of our Unit participated in capturing or escorting those people”. Other members of the Second Squad confirmed this statement.

“At the place where I was standing, nobody was captured, although this was actually not capturing but surrendering. We were told that it did happen up there on the meadow, that some people were surrendering, but I did not see them,” said witness Petar Mitrovic, who was sentenced before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by a first-instance verdict, to 38 years’ imprisonment for genocide committed in Srebrenica.

The Prosecution considers that, following the capture of those people, the indictees participated in escorting the column of about one thousand captured Bosniaks from Sandici village to Kravica in the afternoon of the same day. It alleges that, after having detained them in the warehouse, they killed most of the detainees, as Tomic shot them using an automatic rifle and Vukovic threw bombs into the warehouse.

“I remember a Muslim stealing a rifle from a policeman and killing him. This happened upon their arrival at the hangar. Then they disarmed him. Later on policemen made a ring around the hangar and started shooting. They parked a bus in front of the entrance, most probably in order to make it impossible for those men to run away,” said Ilija Nikolic, a former member of the Bratunac Brigade, who was in Kravica on that day.

Petar Mitrovic said that he came to Kravica on July 13.

“I saw Oficir and a dead man. He told me that the man’s name was Krsto Dragicevic. I saw some soldiers dressed in black uniforms and about ten dead people lying in front of the building. They were Muslims. I do not know who had killed them. I did not hear any shooting. All I could hear were some people talking in the Cooperative. I heard them cursing Serbian and Chetniks’ mothers and something like that. They were talking in a rather harsh way…” Mitrovic said.

The man known as “Oficir” was Rade Cuturic, former Deputy Commander of the Second Squad, who was killed in September 1995.

In his statement, given to the Prosecution during the investigation, Mitrovic said that standing in front of the hangar he “heard explosions of bombs, thrown by Vojvoda and Cupo”. However, at this hearing he said that this was not true.

After the killing had stopped, Jovan Nikolic came to Kravica. In July 1995 he was Director of the Cooperative Complex, which also included Kravica.

“I could see dead people in the hangar and in front of it as well. They were covered with hay. It was a rather distressing scene,” Nikolic recalled.

Witnesses said the corpses were removed from Kravica the following day, i.e. on July 14, when the whole area was cleaned.

“A water truck came and 16 communal service workers. After having collected the bodies, they used loaders to load them onto a truck. After having filled the truck with bodies, they would cover them with hay so the corpses could not be recorded,” Luka Markovic said.

Witness Ostoja Stanojevic, a former driver with the Engineering Squad of Zvornik Brigade, participated in removing the bodies from Kravica.

“There was a loader and four men, wearing gas-masks, in Kravica. The men were carrying the corpses and placing them in the loader arm. The loader then lifted them onto my truck. I drove them to Glogova, where a grave had been dug beneath a house. Two men, wearing gas-masks, unloaded them and put them on a pile. They stayed there to cover them in, while I went back to Kravica. This time they loaded fewer corpses onto my truck, as there were no more corpses left,” the witness said.

Jovan Nikolic said “the municipal authorities” decided to clean the area on that day, because there was “a danger of infection”.

“They brought a loader and two or three trucks. I saw them loading corpses onto trucks. They did not even try to camouflage the bodies. I was informed that they were transferring the bodies to Glogova. The following day two water trucks came to wash off the blood,” Nikolic said.

Merima Husejnovic is BIRN – Justice Report journalist. [email protected] Justice Report is BIRN online weekly publication.

This post is also available in: Bosnian