Witnesses Describe How Mice Paramilitaries Seized Control in Wartime Teslic

11. February 2016.00:00
Defense witnesses testified at the trial of six former members of the Bosnian Serb Army and Mice paramilitary formation. The witnesses said defendant Zoran Sljuka and Ljubisa Petricevic were Mice members with the highest amount of responsibility for attacks conducted on the villages of Stenjak and Rankovici in June 1992. The attacks were part of an operation led by Serb military and police formations aimed at disarming the village residents.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Defendants Dragan Marjanovic, Sasa Gavranovic, Vitomir Devic, Zoran Sljuka, Dragomir Kezunovic and Dario Slavuljica have been charged with abducting and killing 28 civilians detained on police premises in Teslic and the nearby Pribinic prison.

The defendants allegedly took the detainees to Mount Borje on the night of June 17 or 18, 1993, and killed them.

According to the charges, Marjanovic was the commander of the First Squad of military police with the Teslicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army, while the other defendants were members of that squad and also members of the Mice paramilitary formation.

Miroslav Lazic testified at today’s hearing in Dragan Marjanovic’s defense. He said he met defendant Zoran Sljuka in February 1992, when he came to the military barracks and offered to procure weapons for the Territorial Defense at the time.

Lazic said the barracks commander expelled Sljuka from the building and he didn’t see him again until May 1992. He said at that time he and others were told that the Mice paramilitary formation had arrived in the town to help with its mobilization. Lazic said this turned out to be incorrect.

“Local criminals joined them immediately. They intruded offices in the municipality and the police, pillaged property owned by Bosniaks and Croats, mistreated lower-ranking officers. Later on they began pillaging Serb property as well,” Lazic said.

Lazic then went on to describe events in the village of Rankovic. He said the Mice paramilitary formation, military and civil police as well as portions of the Teslicka Brigade of the Bosnian Serb Army participated in an attack on Rankovic. He said the attack lasted four days and resulted in the surrender of some of the village residents.

“About 30 or 35 Bosniaks were captured on that occasion. The others fled,” Lazic said.

The prosecution asked Lazic if he knew that prisoners were held in Teslic and Pribinic. Lazic said he did.

“The prison in Pribinic was guarded by military police,” he said.

Lazic said that although the Mice paramilitary formation participated in the attacks, they weren’t under the command of the Teslicka Brigade.

They participated in battles until they raped the wife of a Serb soldier who was on the frontline.
Lazic said the formation was arrested and their unit dismissed.

“Nobody confronted them until they committed the rape. When they were arrested, they offered resistance. They killed a cousin of mine. Some men were wounded as well,” Lazic said. He said members of the formation were detained and beaten in the basement of a department store.

Lazic said he heard about the executions on Mount Borje, but didn’t know any details. He said he worked with defendant Dragan Marjanovic during and after the war, but only heard about the killings after his arrest.

“Residents of the town were shocked. Nobody could even imagine that Marjanovic had anything to do with it,” Lazic said.

Radomir Mijic, a former officer with the Teslicka Brigade, was the second defense witness to testify at today’s hearing. Mijic said he was deployed from the town after a conflict he had with Ljubisa Petricevic at a meeting held at the brigade command.

“He said Croats were our worst enemies and that as soon as we spotted an Ustasha, we should execute him right away. I objected to this. Then I was removed, because Petricevic would have surely killed me later,” Mijic said.

He said he met the Mice paramilitary formation later on. He said they lined up officers of the Teslicka Brigade and slapped soldiers as well as low ranking officers. He said they called defendant Zoran Sljuka a sergeant on that occasion.

“They took over some competencies although they had no right to do so. As far as I know, nobody could resist them at that moment,” Mijic said.

Mijic said he found about the killings on Mount Borje as late as 1995. He said that he told a colleague that he was happy no crimes had been committed in Teslic.

“He turned towards me and said that some crimes had unfortunately happened. He then told me about [the killings on Mount] Borje,” Mijic said. He said he had never heard anyone associating Marjanovic with that crime.

The trial will continue on February 18.

Nedim Hasić

This post is also available in: Bosnian