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Koricanske stijene: “Men in Blue Uniforms” Standing at Edge of Chasm

4. October 2010.00:00
Protected Prosecution witness KO18, who survived the shooting at Koricanske stijene in August 1992, recognized indictee Skrbic in the courtroom, saying he was “one of the soldiers dressed in blue camouflage uniforms”.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

KO18 told the Court he was in Trnopolje detention camp from May 26 to August 21, 1992, when he was “pushed”, just like other detainees, into one of four buses that came to the detention camp.According to his statement, soldiers dressed in blue camouflage uniforms “were in control of everything” and issued orders to other people “telling them what to do”. The witness saw Milorad Skrbic among them. He recognized him in the courtroom today.

“I know him as he is from Prijedor. I can see him now. I noticed him when they came to Trnopolje detention camp to collect us. He was dressed in a blue camouflage uniform,” the witness said, but he was not able to recall whether he saw Skrbic again on that day.

Protected witness KO18 appeared as an additional Prosecution witness at the trial of Zoran Babic, Milorad Radakovic, Milorad Skrbic, Dusan Jankovic and Zeljko Stojnic, who are charged with the shooting of about 200 men at Koricanske stijene on Mount Vlasic on August 21, 1992. The men had previously been separated from a convoy of people travelling from Prijedor to Travnik.

The Prosecution considers that Babic, Radakovic, Skrbic and Stojnic were members of the Interventions Squad with the Public Safety Station, PSS, in Prijedor, while Dusan Jankovic was allegedly Commander of the PSS.

KO18 recalled that the convoy stopped in Kozarac, where other vehicles from Prijedor joined the buses from Trnopolje. The convoy stopped frequently after passing Banja Luka and an armed escort, dressed in green military uniform, asked the passengers to give him money and other valuables. The witness described the last stop in detail.

“When we stopped by a river, we got out of the bus to freshen up. As we were going back, I saw the men in blue uniforms ordering people to line up. (…) I tried to get on the bus, but the policemen told me to stand in line with the others. I was standing there, looking down, until they ordered us to enter the buses. They said we were going to be exchanged,” witness KO18 said.

After having entered the buses, they moved on. The witness said that the vehicle soon stopped again. He then heard “the sound of a machine gun”.

“We stayed in the bus until the shooting stopped. The front door then opened and someone told three passengers to come out. I did not see the person. They went out. Then I heard shooting. This was how they did it all the time,” KO18 said.

The witness said it was then “his turn” to come out. After getting off the bus through the back door, he saw “the men dressed in blue uniforms” again.

“Five of them were standing on the side. Three more were standing on the edge of a chasm. I walked towards them. We stopped in front of them. We looked into each other’s faces. It looked like a movie scene. I thought the guy facing me would not shoot. He seemed nice. Then they started cursing us and they ordered us to turn around. I felt a bullet hitting me on my left shoulder,” witness KO18 said, adding he fell down on the ground not far from the shooting location.

The witness and other survivors spent a few days in the vicinity of the river. He was then hiding in the woods alone when he was found by Croatian Defence Council, HVO, members, who took him to a hospital in Jajce and then to Fojnica.

The indictment alleges that the men who had been separated from the convoy were loaded onto two buses on Mount Vlasic, transported to Koricanske stijene and ordered to kneel at the edge of a chasm. According to the indictment, members of the Intervention Squad then shot the men.

The trial is due to continue on October 11, 2010.D.S.

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This post is also available in: Bosnian