Acimovic Trial Begins, Defense Claims He Refused to Kill Bosniak Captives

24. February 2016.00:00
The trial of Srecko Acimovic began before the Bosnian state court with a reading of the indictment and the presentation of introductory statements by the prosecution and the defense. Acimovic has been charged with genocide, due to his alleged participation in the mass shooting of 1,040 Bosniaks captured after the fall of Srebrenica.

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According to the indictment, Acimovic deliberately offered assistance to members of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at detaining and killing able-bodied Bosniak men from the enclave of Srebrenica from July 14-16, 1995.

Acting upon orders issued by the Command of the Zvornicka Brigade and the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters in July 1995, Acimovic allegedly took Srebrenica residents from a school building in Rocevic in the municipality of Zvornik to a location of his choice, namely a gravel site on the banks of the Drina river in Kozluk. The captives, blindfolded and tied up, were then killed at that location.

“In his capacity as the commander of the Second Battalion with the Zvornicka Brigade, Acimovic knew that the captives were in the school and acted upon an order issued by the Zvornicka Brigade’s Command to select a squad of soldiers to commit the shooting. He ordered three crates of ammunition, each containing 1,000 bullets and found trucks which would transport the captives to the gravel site in Kozluk where they were all killed,” prosecutor Ibro Bulic said.

Bulic said that for years Acimovic had knowingly misrepresented himself as a hero who resisted the order to kill the captured Bosniaks.

“In fact, he recruited the truck drivers, found volunteers who would commit the shooting and ordered that food and drinks be brought to them. He was present at the site where at least 1,040 Bosniak men and boys were killed. A 12-year old boy, who was shot although he begged not to be killed, was among the victims. After that their bodies were buried in sand holes as unmarked mass graves,” Bulic said.

Acimovic’s defense attorney, Dragan Gotovac, rejected all of the allegations in the indictment. Gotovac said Acimovic was one of the few people who resisted the order to shoot Bosniak captives and bury them in mass graves in July 1995.

Gotovac said the defense attorneys of Vujadin Popovic and Drago Nikolic, the defendant’s former superiors in the Zvornicka Brigade, had been trying to discredit Acimovic for years. He said that Popovic and Nikolic thought out and ordered the execution of the captives. He said they were attempting to discredit Acimovic because he refused to carry out the order to shoot the captives and testified regarding this case before the Hague Tribunal.

“Popovic issued all the orders. It was his idea to verbally convey orders concerning the shooting of the captives so that no written trace would remain. After he had resisted the order to shoot them, his life was in danger. Acimovic testified about this several times after the war. He even appeared as a witness at the Hague. Attempts to discredit him have been made ever since. He had nothing to do with Kozluk. His battalion had no competence in that area. He couldn’t have organized the acquisition of trucks and ammunition. That was done by the security officers of his brigade,” Gotovac said.

The Hague Tribunal sentenced Vujadin Popovic to life imprisonment for participating in the Srebrenica genocide, while Drago Nikolic was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

The trial will continue on March 9.

Nedim Hasić

This post is also available in: Bosnian