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Bosniaks Left Serb Territory ‘Fearing Revenge Attacks’

4. June 2014.00:00
The former local government chief in the town of Pale told Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic’s war crimes trial that Bosniaks were not expelled from the area, but wanted to leave.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Zdravko Cvoro, the former head of the Pale local government, told Mladic’s war crimes trial at the Hague Tribunal on Wednesday that Bosniaks left his municipality voluntarily in the spring of 1992.

He said that they requested permission from the municipality’s Serb authorities to go to Sarajevo because they feared revenge for the killings of Serbs in other places.

Cvoro insisted that the Serbian authorities first asked them to stay, but finally agreed to their demands on April 18 and organised their departure with a police escort.

During cross-examination, the Hague prosecutor told Cvoro that the Bosniaks said in their request to be allowed to leave that they were subjected to abuse and intimidation in Pale.

But Cvoro responded that he personally tried to explain to them that they did not have to leave. Some Serbs, who understood the decision as tacit permission to break into Bosniaks’ homes, were quickly arrested by police, the witness added.

Cvoro said that the Serb authorities escorted 400 Bosniaks to Sarajevo after they were brought to Pale from the town of Bratunac.

“We felt responsible to protect them and give them security in some way,” Cvoro said.

Although he refused to call the Bosniaks prisoners because “we did not imprison them”, he admitted that “they were not free”.

“Obviously they were not arrested according to the law,” he added.

Former Bosnian Serb military chief Mladic is on trial for genocide in Srebrenica and seven other municipalities, the persecution of Bosniaks and Croats in numerous municipalities, including Pale, for terrorising the residents of Sarajevo and taking UN peacekeepers hostage.

The trial continues.

Radoša Milutinović

This post is also available in: Bosnian