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No Orders Involving Captives Assigned to Sixth Battalion in Zvornik

11. November 2015.00:00
Military expert Bozidar Forca testified at the trial of Ostoja Stanisic and Marko Milosevic, former members of the Bosnian Serb Army who’ve been charged with genocide in Srebrenica. Forca said the defendants were not ordered to capture, kill or bury captives in the municipality of Zvornik in 1995.

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Stanisic and Milosevic are on trial for the murder of approximately 1000 Srebrenica civilians on a dam near Petkovci in mid-July 1995. Stanisic was the commander of the Sixth Battalion of the Zvornicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, based in Petkovci, while Milosevic was his deputy.

Bozidar Forca testified at today’s hearing on behalf of the defense. He said that on the basis of various documents and statements, he’d concluded that there were no indications that the Zvornicka Brigade had been ordered to bring captives to Petkovci and kill them. As such, he said he didn’t believe the Sixth Battalion could be considered responsible for the Petkovci killings.

“According to the witnesses who testified at this trial, the captives were brought by members of security agencies, which led the operation, and some military police. The Command of the Sixth Battalion, of which Stanisic and Milosevic were members, did not necessarily have to be aware of that or be familiar with the actions that took place in Petkovci,” Forca said.

Forca said the Sixth Battalion had two tasks in July 1995. One of them was to defend the battalion’s zone of responsibility. The other task, which began on July 13, 1995, was to stop the passage of a group of Bosniak men who had entered their zone of responsibility. The Bosniak men were making their way towards Tuzla.

Forca said the Command of the Sixth Battalion of the Zvornicka Brigade did not participate in capturing people outside of their zone of responsibility.

“You see, the captives, who had been brought to the Zvornicka Brigade’s zone of responsibility, were executed, while those who had been captured by the Zvornicka Brigade were transferred to the Batkovic detention camp,” Forca said. He added that taking prisoners was a legitimate military action.

Forca said the Sixth Battalion of the Zvornicka Brigade wasn’t ordered to participate in the occupation of Srebrenica. However, the brigade’s command had to volunteer 20 soldiers to participate in combat activities in Srebrenica.

“Such requests are really common in military structures, but, in this case, the command responsibility over the soldiers, who were no longer members of the Sixth Battalion, ceased to exist,” Forca explained.

Forca will continue presenting his findings on November 18.

Dragana Erjavec

This post is also available in: Bosnian