Mirsad Haseric, the former commander of the traffic police in Brcko, told the court in Sarajevo on Tuesday that at the beginning of the war, he was taken to a Yugoslav People’s Army military barracks, where he heard someone beating two men, and found out later that they had been killed.
Haseric said paramilitary groups appeared in Brcko in late April 1992.
“Paramilitary groups called the Red Berets entered the town and created chaos,” he told the court.
The witness said that at the beginning of May, he went to the police station, where a few policemen were still working.
After having left the police station with his colleague Ivan Krndelj, he saw paramilitaries approaching the building.
He and Krndelj went to Rahic, where the reserve police station was situated and where “Bosniak and Croat police members were hiding”.
However, his superior Zlatko Jasarevic called them and told them to return to the station in Brcko.
When he got back, he said that some “strange” people who were armed and wearing uniforms were at the station, with some members of the Red Berets among them.
“They told eight of us that we were no longer welcome, to leave our guns and not to go out any more. They locked us into an office. A couple of hours later they transferred us to the Yugoslav People’s Army military barracks, where we stayed until May 25,” the witness said.
During their detention they were guarded by military police, he said. Looking through the prison bars, he saw them take two men from Brcko away.
The two men were then beaten that night.
“We could not sleep because they were beating them. I have never seen them again. When I was released, I heard they had been killed,” the witness said.
Haseric was testifying at the trial of Djordje Ristanic, former president of the wartime presidency of Brcko municipality, who has been charged with committing war crimes in Brcko.
Ristanic is accused of committing crimes against several hundred civilians who were unlawfully detained at the police station, the health centre, the Luka detention camp, buildings belonging to the Laser and “Partizan companies, and the Yugoslav People’s Army garrison, where detainees were abused and killed during the course of 1992.
Also on Tuesday, at the trial of five Serb policemen from Bratunac for genocide in Srebrenica continued, a witness told the court that the Bratunac police force guarded a hangar in which detainees were held.
Witness Branislav Jovanovic, a former policeman from Bratunac, said that only one prisoner was taken out of the hangar, and “nobody else was taken away while we were there and nobody entered the premises”.
“We gave those people water, as it was very hot,” Jovanovic added.
Dragomir Vasic, Miodrag Josipovic, Branimir Tesic, Danilo Zoljic and Radomir Pantic are all on trial for genocide, including the forcible resettlement of the local population and the capture and execution of victims.
According to the charges, Josipovic was the chief of the public security station, while Tesic was the deputy commander of the police station in Bratunac.
Vasic is said to have been the commander of the police headquarters in Zvornik and chief of the public security centre in Zvornik, Zoljic was the commander of its special units and Pantic was the commander of the First Company of the special units.