Kos et al: Death on Branjevo Military Farm

24. May 2011.13:45
At a trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica, a protected Prosecution witness recalls surviving a shooting on Branjevo military farm, Zvornik municipality, in July 1995. The protected witness, who testified under the pseudonym of Z2, said that after an attack by the Republika Srpska Army, VRS, on Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, many civilians, himself included, were taken to the Cultural Centre in Pilica, Zvornik municipality.

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“Then they took us from the Centre and loaded us onto two buses, after having tied our hands. I noticed that we arrived in front of a few houses and the farm in Branjevo. Soldiers, the murderers, had already been there. I could hear bursts of bullets. They took us out. You see death. You see it with your own eyes…There is no more life,” the witness recalled.

Witness Z2 said that VRS soldiers took him and other Srebrenica residents to a meadow, where he saw “many dead bodies”.

“They told us to turn back. One or two bursts of bullets were fired. All of us fell down and it was all over. After the shooting, they asked if there were any survivors. Two men responded. Soldiers then approached them and fired one bullet at each of them. I was not hit by anything, so I was just lying there waiting for it to pass. The murder continued almost until dark,” Z2 said, adding that he saw about 1,000 dead Srebrenica residents on Branjevo.

The State Prosecution charges Franc Kos, Stanko Kojic, Vlastimir Golijan and Zoran Goronja, former members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad with the Main Headquarters of VRS, with having participated in the murder of more than 800 Srebrenica residents, who had previously been held in Pilica, on Branjevo military farm in July 1995.

Witness Z2, who testified under identity and face protection measures, said that the VRS attack on Srebrenica began on July 11, 1995 with “a heavy shelling of the town”.

“We, the elderly civilians, went to Potocari, while soldiers and some younger civilians went to Tuzla through the woods. I stayed in Potocari for two days. While I was there, I saw Ratko Mladic. He was giving some chocolates to kids. He loved the children so much that he killed their fathers and made them orphans,” Z2 said.

Mladic, former Commander of the VRS Main Headquarters, is indicted before the Hague Tribunal for genocide committed in Srebrenica and other crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is currently on the run.

Witness Z2 said that VRS members separated men in Potocari and took them to a house, and they transported women and children by buses to Tuzla.

“They transferred us men to the Vuk Karadzic school building in Bratunac. As soon as we got there, they started taking people out. They told us to leave our luggage outside. Then they started taking people out in order to beat and kill them. I do not know how many men they took out, but it went on and on. Two nights later they came back and drove us to a cultural centre in Pilica village,” witness Z2 said.

The witness said that after having survived the shooting on Branjevo, he wandered through the woods in the vicinity of Pilica for several days before surrendering to VRS members, who took him to Batkovici detention camp, near Bijeljina.

The protected witness stayed in Batkovici for five months, until he was exchanged in December 1995.

During the course of cross-examination, Dusko Tomic, Defence attorney for Franc Kos, apologised to the witness on behalf of his client, adding that “indictee Kos says that the witness is telling the truth”.

The next hearing is due to take place on May 31, when the Trial Chamber will undertake a field visit to Pilica and Branjevo. The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina will continue examining its witnesses on June 3 this year.

Denis Džidić

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