Entire Village Aware of Lokanj Killings, Says State Prosecution Witness

8. February 2016.00:00
Testifying at the trial of nine defendants charged with war crimes in the Zvornik area, a state prosecution witness said all the inhabitants of the village of Lokanj knew about the murder of Bosniaks from Teocak. The victims were civilians captured during combat.

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Defendants Slavko Peric, Goran Maksimovic, Ljiljan Mitrovic, Mile Vujevic, Vukasin Draskovic, Gojko Stevanovic, Rajo Lazarevic, Cvjetko Popadic and Mico Manojlovic have been charged with attacking a civilian convoy that departed Teocak near the village of Lokanj on July 14, 1992. They’re also on trial for escorting and guarding 76 civilians from the convoy, 67 of whom were killed in Lokanj.

According to the charges, Maksimovic was the commander of the Interventions Unit of the public safety station (SJB) in Ugljevik, Mitrovic was his deputy, while Slavko Peric was the commander of the Lokanjska Company with the Zvornicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS). The other defendants were members of that unit.

Dragan Manojlovic, a former member of the Bosnian Serb Army’s Lokanjska Unit, was the first state prosecution witness to testify at today’s hearing.

Manojlovic described events that occurred in the village prior to the capture of “Muslims, a number of whom were present in the woods.”

“They were killed somewhere in the woods, near Dragan Marjanovic’s house,” state prosecution witness Dragan Manojlovic said.

Manojlovic said he saw the Bosniak captives in an agricultural field. They were guarded by the police, who didn’t allow anyone to approach them.

“There were about ten of them. They were kneeling. I don’t know if they were tied up, I couldn’t see that, but their hands were behind their backs,” Manojlovic said. He said he heard later on that the captives were killed, but he didn’t see the murders and didn’t know who committed them.

“Later on I heard that Muslims were killed next to the church as well. Everybody talked about it. People also mentioned the names of those who killed them. I wouldn’t talk about the names. I didn’t see it personally, so I don’t want to convey what I heard,” Manojlovic said.

Manojlovic said defendant Slavko Peric was “some sort of commander” to him.

“Nobody obeyed his [Slavko Peric’s] orders. Not the soldiers, the backup forces or the kitchen staff. Back then, as well as today, village residents say Slavko was set up, because he was appointed commander on the same day as the attack,” Manojlovic said.

The prosecution questioned Manojlovic about key differences between a statement he gave during the investigation of the case and his testimony at the trial.

The prosecution said during the investigation Manojlovic said “Muslims were killed by Mico Tomic,” who he heard had committed “horrible acts.” The prosecution also said Manojlovic mentioned Gordana Lazarevic, who “interrogated prisoners in a warehouse about who killed her husband, and requested later on that they be killed.”

Manojlovic said he didn’t make certain remarks that were in his statement. He also said he gave his statement to investigators under pressure.

“They put papers in front of me, asked me about some people. They told me they suspected me of taking eight Muslims away. I didn’t say the things you just mentioned,” Manojlovic said.

A protected witness known as S-7 also addressed the chamber at today’s hearing. He said he no longer needed protection measures.

“I don’t need them anymore. The whole village knows I’m a protected witness,” S-7 said.

He asked for an attorney to assist him during his testimony, so as not to expose himself to criminal prosecution.

The trial will continue on February 15.

Nedim Hasić

This post is also available in: Bosnian