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Defense Witness Describes Capture and Transport of Civilian Captives to Lokanj

14. December 2015.00:00
A state prosecution witness testified at the trial of nine former Bosnian Serb police and military officials charged with war crimes in Zvornik. The witness said the Interventions Group from the Ugljevik public safety station escorted civilian captives from a nearby forest to the village of Lokanj in the municipality of Zvornik in July 1992.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Defendants Goran Maksimovic, Ljiljan Mitrovic, Slavko Peric, Mile Vujevic, Vukasin Draskovic, Gojko Stevanovic, Cvjetko Popadic, Rajo Lazareviz and Mico Manojlovic have been charged with participating in an attack on a group of civilians fleeing Teocak on July 14, 1992. They allegedly captured 76 civilians, 67 of whom were killed in the village of Lokanj in the municipality of Zvornik.

Maksimovic was the commander of the Interventions Unit of the public safety station in Ugljevik, Mitrovic was his deputy, while Slavko Peric was the commander of the Lokanjska Company of the Zvornicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army. The other defendants were members of the Lokanjska Company.

Vojislav Zelenovic, a former member of the public safety station in Ugljevik, testified at today’s hearing. Zelenovic said he couldn’t say with certainty that defendant Goran Maksimovic was the commander of the Interventions Group, although he acted like their leader.

He said he and defendant Ljiljan Mitrovic weren’t members of the Interventions Group in the summer of 1992, but accompanied the unit to Lokanj.

He said they initially went to the neighbouring village of Gornja Krcina after receiving reports of theft of firewood and cattle, among other goods. He said they went to the village of Lokanj afterwards, and stayed overnight because it was dark. In the morning, Zelenovic said, the group heard gunfire and went to a nearby forest to investigate.

“We were divided into three groups. I think Goran Maksimovic formed the groups. He told us to go there and see what was going on and who was shooting,” Zelenovic said.

Zelenovic said he went to the forest with Maksimovic, Mitrovic and others. When they returned to Lokanj, he said he heard that approximately 50 people from Teocak had been captured in the forest. He said he saw about 20 captives in the village while observing them from a distance.

Zelenovic said he heard that Ivan Stevanovic, a member of the Interventions Group, participated in escorting the detained civilians to Lokanj. He said he didn’t know who else accompanied Stevanovic.

He said he returned to Lokanj with Maksimovic and Mitrovic. In Lokanj, Zelenovic said they ate at the house where the unit had spent the night. They then returned to the location they left towards the forest from.

Zelenovic said Vinko Lazic came to Lokanj as well and interrogated the captives. Lazic was the head of the Ugljevik public safety station and served as his deputy, as well as an inspector.

When asked whether he knew what had happened to the detainees, Zelenovic said, “I heard rumours that some of them were killed, while others were transported to Bijeljina.”

Responding to questions from the defense, Zelenovic said he didn’t know whether Maksimovic ordered the arrest and execution of the captives.

The trial will continue on December 21.

Amer Jahić

This post is also available in: Bosnian