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Voluntary Departure from Bijeljina

25. March 2013.00:00
In the trial of Radovan Karadzic, charged with persecution of Bosniaks and Croats, defence witness Dragomir Ljubojevic stated that Muslim civilians left Bijeljina voluntarily, not under duress.

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Ljubojevic, who was the president of Bijeljina Municipal Assembly from 1996 suggested that the departure of Muslims was the consequence of the arrival of 50,000 Serb refugees who were displaced from other parts of BIH.According to the indictment, in early April 1992, Serb paramilitary formations, led by the unit of Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan forcibly took over control of Bijeljina, killing 48 civilians on that occasion.While being cross-examined by prosecutor Hildegard Uertz-Retzlaff, witness Ljubojevic stated that he was not aware that “Major” Vojkan Durovic, who was loyal to Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan, was persecuting Muslims, but he could neither “exclude this possibility”.Raznatovic, who was indicted by the ICTY for war crimes, was assassinated in Belgrade in 2000.When presented the Red Cross reports on the dislocation of more than 2,500 Muslims from Bijeljina, which was carried out by Durkovic, the witness Ljubojevic first said that “the report is incorrect” and that “he is not aware of any events”.Ljubojevic then said that “the dislocation frequently happened with the consent of Muslims” adding that it was also “humane dislocation”, in the circumstances when “Bijeljina was overpopulated” due to a large number of Serb refugees “dealing with everyday hardships”.The prosecutor also presented the witness with a document according to which Karadzic himself initiated an investigation against Durkovic, to which Ljubojevic replied that “this was mentioned” when he was first appointed the Municipal President, but Durkovic was never convicted of any crime”.On Karadzic`s proposal, Ljubojevic also testified “it is absolutely incorrect” that the authorities approved of Durkovic`s actions and participated in the dislocation. The trial of Karadzic, former president of Republika Srpska, who was also charged with Srebrenica genocide, will continue on Monday, 25 March when a retired General Radislav Krstic will take witness stand.In 2004, Krstic, who was the VRS Drina Corps Commander during the war, was sentenced to 35 years in prison by the ICTY’s final verdict for aiding and abetting Srebrenica genocide.In early February, Krstic refused to testify due to his health. Medical examinations ordered by the Court Panel established that there are no medical reasons to prevent Krstic from testifying.As the presiding judge O-gon Kwon said, Krstic noted in his letter to the Panel that he did not wish to testify.Should he refuse to testify, Krstic could befound in contempt of court which carries a term of imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine up to EUR 100,000, or both.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian