Bosnian Serb Soldier Acquitted of Srebrenica Genocide
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The court on Thursday found Cvetkovic, a former member of the Tenth Reconnaissance Division of the Bosnian Serb Army, not guilty of taking part in the killings of over 900 Muslim men and boys at Branjevo farm near Zvornik after the fall of Srebrenica.
“It is clear that a grave crime was committed in Srebrenica, and there are final verdicts [against others] for the killings in Branjevo. However, the court must and the public should be aware that in each individual case, guilt must be determined beyond all reasonable doubt, said presiding judge Darko Samardzic.
“In this case, due to a lack of evidence, the court had doubts whether the defendant took part in the crime, and so had to bring in a not guilty verdict,” Samardzic said.
He said that the prosecution had proved that Cvetkovic brought a group of members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Division to the Branjevo farm, who then took part in the killings of Srebrenica men. However, he added, it had not been proved that Cvetkovic personally took part in killings.
According to judge Samardzic, only two prosecution witnesses said they saw Cvetkovic open fire. One of them, he said, was Hague Tribunal convict Drazen Erdemovic, whose statement was read out in court because he could not come and testify in person.
“Considering the defence could not cross-examine this witness, the value of his statement is reduced,” said the judge.
He also noted that Tenth Reconnaissance Division ex-soldiers Franc Kos, Stanko Kojic, Vlastimir Golijan and Zoran Goronja testified for the defence and admitted they took part in the killings, but said that they didn’t see Cvetkovic open fire.
“Considering that these persons have already been sentenced to long-term prison sentences, the chamber does not find they had motives for false testimony… All of this brought into serious doubt the claims of the prosecution, which is why the chamber could only bring in a not guilty verdict,” said Samardzic.
The Hague Tribunal sentenced Erdemovic to five years in prison for the killings of Bosniaks at Branjevo farm, while the Bosnian court sentenced Kos, Kojic, Golijan and Goronja to a total of 112 years for their involvement.
Cvetkovic was also acquitted of taking part in two attacks on Srebrenica in June and July 1995.
According to the judge, several members of the Tenth Reconnaissance Division said they did not see Cvetkovic during the attacks.
The verdict can be appealed.