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The prosecutor in the retrial of Ostoja Stanisic for assisting the Srebrenica genocide told the state court in Sarajevo on Tuesday that the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army Zvornik Brigade’s Sixth Battalion was aware that Bosniak prisoners brought to a school building in the village of Petkovci in July 1995 would be killed.
Prosecutor Predrag Tomic said the prisoners were guarded by members of the Sixth Battalion.
“We consider that the defendant contributed significantly to what happened next, that the prisoners would be taken away and executed,” Tomic said.
The prosecution argued that Stanisic played a key role in concealing traces of what happened, adding that several witnesses testified that Stanisic said that blood in the area around the school building should be cleaned up.
“The defendant assisted the genocidal operation knowingly and continuously. He knew about the genocidal intent of the main executors,” Tomic said.
In January this year, the state court’s appeals chamber quashed Stanisic’s conviction for assisting the commission of genocide in Srebrenica, under which he was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
He had been found guilty of participating in the crime at a dam in Petkovci where several hundreds of captured Bosniak men and boys from Srebrenica were shot dead. His deputy commander Marko Milosevic was acquitted.
Stanisic addressed the court on Tuesday and said that, as a human being, he felt sorry for the innocent victims and expressed condolences to their families, but insisted he did not commit the crimes with which he is charged.
“I can assure you that I never received an order, be it before or after the execution, to conceal this crime,” Stanisic said.
Presenting the defence’s closing statement, Stanisic’s lawyer insisted that the defendant did not know that the prisoners would be killed, adding that members of the Sixth Battalion did not participate in the guarding of the prisoners and removing the corpses and the blood.
“There is not a single piece of evidence that the defendant was aware of the main executors’ plan or that he directly or indirectly communicated with any of them. That neither follows from the testimonies given by Bosnian state prosecution witnesses nor by the defendant and his deputy,” defence lawyer Milos Peric said.
He argued that there was no interaction between the defendant and soldiers who guarded the prisoners.
Peric also said that the evidence implied that Stanisic had no contacts with the prisoners’ escorts and that he did not guard them, so the accusations were not proven.
He explained that equipment belonging to the Sixth Battalion was used to clean up blood in the streets surrounding the school building, but the battalion assistance was offered after a request from local residents.
“It was done for hygienic and health reasons, medical cleaning and disinfection, not for the purpose of hiding the crimes,” Peric said.
He added that all the members of the battalion’s command were on the front lines when the crime was committed.
The verdict is scheduled for September 27.