Witness Describes Surviving Three Attacks on Civilian Convoy in Lokanj

18. January 2016.00:00
A state prosecution witness testifying at the trial of nine former members of Bosnian Serb police and military forces said he was at the front of a convoy that was attacked while traveling from Teocak to territory controlled by the Bosnian Army on July 14, 1992.

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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.

State prosecution witness Ferid Dzuzdanovic said the inhabitants of Teocak wanted to leave the town and organized a convoy. He said approximately 120 civilians left Teocak in the evening on July 14, 1992.

“Teocak was blocked and totally surrounded. The local population could not leave the town freely. One had to pass through Serb positions,” Dzuzdanovic said. He said he himself left Teocak eight times after the blockade.

“I wasn’t there when the convoy departed. I joined them later on…Four men, who were at the front of the convoy, were armed. Bekir Mesic’s squad escorted us to the place where we crossed the line and arrived to Serb territory. Apart from the squad members, only two other men in the convoy were uniformed. The others were civilians,” Dzuzdanovic said, adding that the convoy mainly consisted of men, two women and one child.

After the squad departed, Dzuzdanovic said the convoy was intercepted and attacked three times while travelling through Lokanj in the direction of Zvornik.

“The convoy was cut when it came across the third ambush. The shooting lasted about an hour. The army came from the right side, while men in blue police uniforms came from the left side,” Dzuzdanovic said.

He said just less than 50 people managed to escape the ambush, while 70 remained in the woods, where they were captured and taken away.

Dzuzdanovic said he found out some time later that some of the captives were killed and others exchanged.

Slavko Mirkovic, a former member of the Interventions Squad of the public safety station in Ugljevik, was the second witness to testify at today’s hearing. Mirkovic said he was in Lokanj on July 14, 1992.

He said most members of the Interventions Squad were redeployed to the village of Gornje Krcine. He said defendants Ljiljan Mitrovic and Goran Maksimovic, from whom they received orders in the field, were with them.

“About ten of us were transported to the village of Lokanj, where we stayed overnight…Just before dawn dawn we heard shouting, screaming. When we went out, somebody said Muslims had attacked the village,” Mirkovic said.

Mirkovic said his squad was divided into three groups and that he, Maksimovic, Mitrovic and a few other comrades went “to the right of the crossroads.” He said that while going to the division line, they saw a wounded man returning from duty.

Mirkovic said he heard shooting in the distance. He said they saw traces of a convoy on the road and two dead soldiers not far from the site of the convoy.

Mirkovic said they encountered approximately ten captives from the convoy when they returned to Lokanj. He said he recognized one of his former colleagues among the captives, with whom he used to work in a mine before the war.

“I saw a soldier trying to beat one of the captives, but my colleague chased the soldier off,” Mirkovic said.

Dusko Tomic, Maksimovic’s defense attorney, asked Mirkovic whether he could have protected his former colleague on that occasion. Mirkovic said there were was no need as no one was beating him.

Mirkovic said the interventions squad returned to Ugljevik soon after the arrival of commander Vinko Lazic in Lokanj. He said upon his arrival at the station, his comrades told him some of the captives had been shot.

“I didn’t believe somebody would kill them. It didn’t even cross my mind,” Mirkovic said during cross-examination.

Two prosecution witnesses will testify at the next hearing, scheduled for January 25.

Jasmina Đikoli

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