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Belgrade Higher Court. Photo: BIRN.
Former employees from the Ripac police station near Bihac testified at the trial of Bosnian Serb Army ex-soldier Dragan Dopudja at Belgrade Higher Court on Wednesday that around 150 Bosnian civilians were detained at an old tractor repair shop in the village of Ripac in June 1992.
Half of them were freed under prisoner exchanges and the rest were taken away and never came back, former police administrative worker Milan Matijevic told the court.
“The military police came and took them away, in groups… As a person, I was interested in where they were going, and they said that ‘they are going on an exchange’ or ‘they are going on a work detail’,” Matijevic testified.
“Did they come back?” asked prosecutor Gordana Jekic Bradajic. Matijevic replied: “No.”
The indictment alleges that Dopudja was a member of Bosnian Serb Army’s 15th Bihac Brigade, and that between June 24 and the first half of July 1992, he and other members of his unit entered the detention facility, picked out ten prisoners, tied them up and transported them by truck to Hrgar, where they were killed.
Dopudja is accused of personally killing four of them.
Bosnian Serb soldiers threw the dead bodies into the Bezdana pit in Hrgar, where they were discovered in 1997, together with 73 other people.
Matijevic’s story was corroborated at Wednesday’s hearing by two of his former police colleagues from Ripac, who also said that a couple of times a week, prisoners were taken away and did not come back.
Two witnesses said they didn’t know the defendant and could not say if he was among the people who took the prisoners away.
Another said he knew Dopudja but that he did not see him when the prisoners were taken.
He has confirmed that prisoners were being held at the former tractor repair shop, but claimed that he never entered the detention facility.
The Bosnian prosecution initially charged Dopudja in 2014, together with former Bosnian Serb military policeman Zeljko Stanarevic. In 2017, Stanarevic was sentenced to 13 years in prison in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The case against Dopudja was transferred to Serbia, where he lives.
Another former Bosnian Serb Army soldier, Sasa Curguz, was also convicted in Bosnia and Herzegovina of involvement in the crime in Hrgar and sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2017.
The trial continues.