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Witness Describes Surrender of Civilians to Bosnian Serb Forces in Sandici Area

22. December 2015.00:00
Testifying at the trial of five former members of Bosnian Serb police forces charged with genocide in Srebrenica, a state prosecution witness said members of the Zvornik public safety center commanded by defendant Radomir Pantic protected the road to Sandici, where Bosniak civilians surrendered to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Miodrag Josipovic, Branimir Tesic, Dragomir Vasic, Danilo Zoljic and Radomir Pantic have been charged with genocide in Srebrenica. According to the indictment, they forcibly resettled civilians and also captured and executed men and boys.

According to the charges, Josipovic was the chief of the public safety station in the area. Tesic was the deputy commander of the police station in Bratunac. Vasic was the commander of the police headquarters in Zvornik. Zoljic was the commander of special units at a public safety center. Pantic was the commander of the First Company of the special units.

Mile Stanisic, a former member of the Zvornik public safety station, said members of the First Company guarded the road in Sandici. He said Bosniak men emerged from the woods in the area, fleeing killings in the area. He said Radomir Pantic was in Sandici the entire time, except for when he visited the family of a killed police officer to express his condolences.

Stanisic said some Bosniak men emerging from the woods were wounded by Bosnian Serb forces protecting the road, because one of them threw an explosive device at a police officer. According to Stanisic, members of the First Company were told that enemy forces might attack and cut off the road.

“Of course we would have reacted in the event of an attack in order to protect ourselves and our colleagues, as well as to prevent the road from being blocked,” Stanisic said.

When asked whether members of the company were told what to do if people surrendered, Stanisic said they had no orders related to surrendered civilians.

“Civilians were coming out from all directions. Many of them were wounded. They came out wherever the configuration of the terrain was suitable…They were free. We had no concrete tasks concerning them. They didn’t have any weapons,” Stanisic said. He said he couldn’t see where the civilians were going.

Stanisic said he recognized himself in a video recording depicting the surrender of Bosniak civilians in the area.

“I went down at that moment. Some people called us because they were wounded. I went down for 20 meters and then returned,” Stanisic said.

The prosecution presented Stanisic with a statement he gave to the Hague Tribunal in 2001, in which he said surrendered civilians asked him where they should go. In his 2001 statement, he said he told them to go to a house in the area.

Stanisic said he may have spoken to a civilian, but he couldn’t remember the details of their conversation.

The trial will continue on December 29.

Albina Sorguč

This post is also available in: Bosnian