Srebrenica – Center from Jahorina: Bullets and Dust Left All in Darkness

11. July 2012.00:00
Survivor of warehouse slaughter at Kravica recalled the role in the Srebrenica massacre played by the Training Centre from Jahorina.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

A survivor of the mass shooting in Kravica in July 1995, following the fall of Srebrenica, testified last February at the trial of four Bosnian Serbs charged with the Srebrenica genocide that after several hours of shooting he had survived by pulling dead bodies onto himself.

“The burst of fire cut us down. They started to shoot and then groaning and shouting could be heard, along with ‘Don’t shoot!’

“It was darkness with all the bullets and the dust,” Witness S-111 said, testifying against Dusko Jevic, Mendeljev Djuric, Goran Markoviand and Nedjo Ikonic, members of the Training Center from Jahorina.

Several members of the Second Squad of the Special Police from Sekovici have been sentenced for the mass liquidation of Bosniak detainees in a warehouse in Kravica on July 13, 1995.

In the evening hours of that day, they were replaced by the Training Center from Jahorina, which was also part of the Special Police Brigade of the Republika Srpska. That night and the following day, they continued with the killings at Kravica.

“When dawn came, they [the Serbs] asked whether there some were injured, so that they could be taken to hospital. I do not know how many [survivors then left.

“Then they asked: ‘Whether there are the healthy ones to join our army?’ Those persons were taken away by truck, while the wounded ones were shot,” this witness recalled.

The Training Centre at Jahorina was formed with the aim of training conscripts who had completed military service in the Bosnian Serb Ministry of Interior, MUP.

Training was carried out by instructors from the Special Police Brigade and the MUP.

In June 1995, Bosnian citizens rounded up in Serbia in police raids started to arrive at the Center. After training, they were sent onto the terrain around the besieged Bosniak enclave of Srebrenica.

The Commander of the Center, Dusko Jevic, was known as Stalin. He was assistant commander of the Special Police Brigade, while Mendeljev Djuric and Nedjo Ikonic were commanders of two companies, each of which had about 100 members.

Passports no longer needed:

Members of the Centre were among the first Bosnian Serb forces to enter Potocari on July 12, 1995.

Civilians from Srebrenica had fled to the Dutch UN battalion headquarters there after the town centre fell to the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, led by Ratko Mladic.

The members of the Training Center participated in coordinating the transportation of women and children to the Bosnian government-held town of Tuzla, as well as in the separation from them of all militarily capable men on July 12 and 13.

“I noticed that the men were being separated. ‘Mane’ told me that it needed to be checked out whether there were war criminals,” Leen Van Dujin, officer of the Dutch UN Battalion stationed in Potocari testified in September 2008.

“Mane came back and ran the same process of transport and separation on July 13. I asked him why they were taking away their [the Bosniaks’] passports, and Mane said that they would no longer need them.”
The Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in May sentenced Jevic to 35, and Mendeljev Djuric “Mane”, to 30 years’ prison for aiding in the genocide in a first-instance verdict.

The same verdict acquitted Nedjo Ikonic and Goran Markovic, commander of one of the platoons at the Center.

A brother of Protected Witness A-2 was separated in Potocari in a group with the other men and boys.

“At no time did I think that they would brutally kill so many people… from Potocari,” A-2 said in May 2010, testifying at the trial of Jevic, Djuric, Ikonic and Markovic.

“I went by bus [to Tuzla] with other civilians on July 12, and I later found my brother in a mass grave near Zvornik.”

The first killings of groups of males began in Potocari. Witnesses reported that Nedjo Milidragovic, commander of one of the platoons from the Training Center, killed a group of men there.

“Milidragovic took a group of people, some 15 to 20, up to a creek and shot them,” Protected Witness S-100 said in November 2010 at the trial of Jevic et al.

“Prior to that, he told me and Person A that we must be real Serbian fighters and go with him. He lined them up [the prisoners] and turned them to their backs. I watched as he killed two or three,” he said.

In mid-June, the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina charged Milidragovic, together with Aleksa Golijanin, commander of the platoon in the Center, with genocide.

Neither indictee is available to the prosecution authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, however.
Lured down and then killed:

Members of the Training Center on July 12 and 13 were located on the road from Konjevic Polje to Bratunac, where they captured the men who surrendered in the forests, having fled from Srebrenica towards Tuzla.

Enver Husic, who was then 17, testifying in October 2010, recalled how he, his brother, father and other men from Srebrenica walked through the forests towards Tuzla, hoping to reach safety.

But he said that they were exposed to shelling, and that about a hundred of the men were seriously injured, including his father.

“They shot from all sides. On the road, we saw a transporter of the United Nations, giving ultimatums by megaphone that we must surrender or we will be killed.

“They said that UNPROFOR was there and would transport us to Tuzla, and that encouraged us. But once we surrendered, we saw that the soldiers in blue helmets were not from UNPROFOR, but were actually Serbian soldiers.

“This meant death – that we had been lured down and would be killed”, Husic told the trial of the four members of the Training Center.

The arrested men were held on the meadow in Sandici, from where they were taken to a warehouse in Kravica.

On July 13, ten wounded men were killed in Sandici. Dragan Crnogorac, member of the Center, pleaded guilty of involvement in this murder, and was sentenced May last year to 13 years’ prison.

Milivoje Cirkovic and Zoran Kusic, his colleagues from the platoon, also confessed to having killed one detainee and were jailed for five years, in September 2010 and March 2011 respectively.

On the morning of July 14, some men in the warehouse who survived the shooting were urged to come out, under the pretext that the wounded would be taken to the hospital and the others exchanged.

“About 100 to 150 men left the warehouse after which they were executed by members of the Center for Training from Jahorina”, it is stated in a verdict handed down by the Hague tribunal in 2010, by which seven high ranking Bosnian Serb officials were found guilty of crimes in Srebrenica.

The same verdict states that the men from the Center resumed executions around the warehouse.

Bozidar Kuvelja, Dragan Neskovic and Zoran Ilic are currently on trial before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for participation in mass murder.

Dejan Radojkovic was extradited from the United States on May 24 this year on suspicion that, as commander in the Training Center, he had committed crimes against humanity.

Witnesses at the trials mentioned that volunteers were sought for the shooting in Kravica from among members of the Center.

“I remember that at night someone asked, ‘Does anyone want to do any killing?’ I saw four to five persons leave but I don’t know where to,” Milorad Saric, a former member of the Training Center said, testifying at the trial of Jevic et al in December 2010.

So far, three members of the Training Center from Jahorina, Crnogorac, Cirkovic and Kusic, were sentenced to a total of 23 years in prison.

By first-instance verdict, two highest ranking persons of the Center Jevic and Djuric were sentenced to 65 years’ imprisonment, while three former members of this Unit are currently on trial – Kuvelja, Neskovic and Ilic.

This post is also available in: Bosnian