In the cross-examination of Radivoje Lakic, former Branjevo military farm manager, Vinko Pandurevic’s defense counsel argued that about 1,200 or so captive Muslims had not been executed on 16 July 1995 at the military farm as alleged in the indictment. They were executed at the Agroprom farm in Zvornik: this should probably imply that the army had nothing to do with this crime

Radivoje Lakic, witness in the trial of the former military and police officials charged with the Srebrenica genocide Radivoje Lakic, witness in the trial of the former military and police officials charged with the Srebrenica genocide

“I concluded this was an execution”, prosecution witness Radivoje Lakic said today, as he described how from his house near the Branjevo military farm he had heard gunfire coming from a distance of about 400 m, from the direction of the barns owned by the Agroprom agribusiness company in Zvornik. This was on 16 July 1995.

The indictment against seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers alleges that about 1,200 Muslims captured after the fall of Srebrenica were executed there. Two prisoners who survived the execution and Drazen Erdemovic – one of the executioners – already testified about the Branjevo farm massacre at the previous Srebrenica trials.

Radivoje Lakic, an agricultural technician, was appointed manager of the Branjevo military farm in 1994. The farm spread over an area of 6.5 hectares owned by Agroprom. Lakic commanded a “working platoon”: about a dozen men, most of them elderly, who, according to him, were “only working on the farm” and were not armed.

That same day when he heard the shooting at Branjevo, a courier from the 1st Battalion, Zvornik Brigade, came to see Lakic with an order to provide “five men to go to Pilica to help load the persons who had been liquidated in the Coop Building in Pilica” According to the indictment, about 500 prisoners were executed in this building, also known as the Pilica Cultural Hall.

Lakic did as he was ordered and sent six men to Pilica. He later learned that two of them managed to escape because they did not want to participate in the “loading” of these men. Lakic claims that on that day he and his assistant took vegetables to the kitchen of the 1st Battalion HQ in Lokanj. He “spent all his working life in his office” in the Coop building in Pilica, as he said, yet after this event, he did not return to the building for at least ten days.

In the brief cross-examination, the defense counsel of Vinko Pandurevic, former VRS Zvornik Brigade commander, implied that 1,200 prisoners were not executed on the military farm, saying they were killed at the Agroprom farm in Zvornik. The Agroprom estate spread over an area of 1,400 hectares. In the re-examination, prosecutor Norman Thayer noted that the military used other Agroprom facilities for pig farming, not only those that were part of the military farm, including the barns where the Muslim prisoners were executed.

The trial of Bosnian Serb military and police officers continues on Monday.