Kos et al: Higher Power on Branjevo

22. November 2011.14:02
Testifying in his defence at the trial for genocide in Srebrenica, indictee Franc Kos says that prisoners, who were brought to Branjevo military farm, were first killed from machine guns and then from revolvers, adding that all indictees participated in the shooting.

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Franc Kos, who testified in his defence before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad of the Main Headquarters with the Republika Srpska Army, VRS shot prisoners, who had been taken out of buses in groups, by shooting at them from machine guns.

“I placed a machine gun. Goronja stood next to me. He fired ten bullets and he then fell down. I know that Z1 told him: ‘What are you waiting for, little guy. Shoot.’ Z1 fired bursts of bullets at the second group of
prisoners. Many of them were injured. The second indictee then told us not to shoot like that. It was agreed that short bursts of bullets would be fired at groups, consisting of about ten people each,” Kos said.

The Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charges Kos, Stanko Kojic, Vlastimir Golijan and Zoran Goronja with committing genocide in Srebrenica by participating in the murder of more than 800 men and boys on Branjevo military farm in July 1995.

According to the charges, Kos, former Commander of the First Unit with the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad of the VRS Main Headquarters, and Kojic, Golijan and Goronja, former members of that Squad, jointly shot prisoners, some of whom were tied and blindfolded.

Kos said that members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad participated in the murder of about 300 prisoners, adding that members of some other unit came and continued shooting the remaining prisoners.

“Those soldiers yelled at us and said: ‘Now we shall show you how this should be done’. They started shooting at the prisoners. I left the place and sat in a minivan. Somebody said that the drivers and all other men, who were present on Branjevo, should kill one or two prisoners each, so no witnesses would remain alive. The drivers had to shoot people, because guns were pointed at their back,” Kos said.

When asked by the Trial Chamber how the prisoners looked like while being taken for the execution, indictee Kos said that they mostly kept quiet.

“Some kept quiet, while others spoke in a low voice. Some cursed too. They peacefully proceeded to the liquidation place. People were standing in a row, while we shot them by firing bullets on their backs,” Kos said, adding that all indictees participated in the shooting on Branjevo.

Kos said that, four days after the shooting on Branjevo he saw Commander Milorad Pelemis and asked him what had happened. Pelemis responded by saying that it was “a higher power”. According to indictee Kos, Pelemis never told him who had given him the order to deploy members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Squad to Branjevo.

“We were told to go from Branjevo to Pilica. We came to a café, which was located next to the Cultural Centre in Pilica. When I came out, I saw corpses in the Centre. I could hear shooting too,” Kos said.

The next hearing is due to be held on November 29 this year.

Selma Učanbarlić

This post is also available in: Bosnian