A DAY TO FORGET
The second insider from the Zvornik Brigade Military Police testifies at the Srebrenica trial. The witness confirms that the accused Drago Nikolic assigned him to the guard post at Orahovac school. Approximately 1,000 Srebrenica Muslims were kept there before they were executed on 14 July 1995
Drago Nikolic in the courtroom
The trial of seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers charged with crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa in 1995 continued today with the testimony of another VRS Zvornik Brigade military police officer. He was on guard duty in front of the schools in Orahovac and Rocevic. In July 1995 the captured Srebrenica Muslims were detained and later executed there.
The witness claims he received his orders to stand guard in front of the Orahovac and Rocevic schools either from Miomir Jasikovac, the Zvornik Brigade military police commander, or from Drago Nikolic, chief of security in the Zvornik brigade. He is sure that he saw Drago Nikolic in front of the school in Orahovac talking to "a tall VRS officer with grayish hair wearing glasses who definitely was not from the Zvornik Brigade". Drago Nikolic assigned a group of military policemen – including the witness – to guard posts around the school. They were warned to be "very careful" as they were to guard "dangerous soldiers ready to do anything, even kill guards with they bare hands". Something like that had allegedly happened in Bratunac.
The witness, who is testifying under a pseudonym, is a military police officer from Zvornik. He "could not be precise" about what unit 50-odd soldiers he saw in front of the Orahovac school belonged to. He is not sure of the exact number of the prisoners in the school but knows the school gym was packed. There were a lot of civilians standing in front of the school building and his task was "to protect the prisoners from the civilians who had gathered there".
The next day, the prisoners were taken with their hands tied behind their backs in the direction "opposite of Zvornik, in small army buses". The buses came back empty, and gunfire was heard from that direction where the buses had gone, the witness said.
The witness spent two hours in front of the school in Rocevici. He presumes that a group of soldiers he met there belonged to the Zvornik Brigade. He came nowhere near the entrance to the school, but from his position he was able to see buses carrying the prisoners come and go. The witness didn't hear shots but he assumes the prisoners from Rocevici met the same fate as the Muslim prisoners in Orahovac. The witness confirmed he had not seen any actual killings or “evidence of killings” at any of the places where he had been standing guard.
In the cross-examination, the defense counsel implied that the insider gave evidence under duress, because he was afraid he might be held responsible for the crime. According to the indictment, more than one thousand Muslim prisoners from Srebrenica were killed in this incident. In response to questions put to him by Ljubisa Beara's defense counsel, the witness denied that any mention of this was made when he was interviewed by the OTP. In all of his interviews with the investigators, he was treated as a witness.
Stephan Bourgon, Drago Nikolic's defense counsel, tried to discredit the witness's evidence. "This is one of those events”, he said, that Zvornik police officer "wanted to forget and that is the reason he can't remember many things". The witness confirmed he would “like to forget it”, but that he still remembered seeing Drago Nikolic in front of the Orahovac school on 14 July 1995 in the company of "a tall officer with grayish hair". The accused Ljubisa Beara fits this description but this fact was not discussed today, at least not in public session.
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