INVESTIGATING MASSACRE AT KORICANSKE STIJENE
At the trial of Radovan Karadzic, the prosecution is currently leading evidence on the execution of 200 Muslims and Croats on 21 August 1992 at Koricanske Stijene on Mt. Vlasic. Nenad Krejic, former chief of the Public Security Station in Skender Vakuf, testified about the incident. At the beginning of the conflict, the Serb authorities renamed Skender Vakuf municipality Knezevo. Milan Komljenovic, president of the Crisis Staff in Knezevo, was called as the next witness
The massacre in which about 200 men were killed at Koricanske Stijene was committed by the Prijedor police intervention squad which had been escorting the convoy with non-Serb civilians to Travnik on 21 August 1992. Nenad Krejic, former chief of the Public Security Station in Skender Vakuf, testified at the trial of Radovan Karadzic about the police investigation of the massacre. At the beginning of the conflict, the Serb authorities changed the name of the municipality into Knezevo. The transcript of the evidence Krejic gave last year at the trial of former Bosnian Serb officials Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin was admitted into evidence.
At that trial, Krejic said that when he learned about the massacre at Koricanske Stijene he informed the chief of the Banja Luka Security Services Center Zupljanin. Zupljanin ordered Krejic to visit the crime scene. The witness saw about 200 bodies there and was able to establish that the Prijedor Public Security Station personnel had committed the crime and looted the convoy. The witness also described two meetings at which the political and police leaders from Prijedor and Knezevo discussed the incident.
At the first meeting convened by Zupljanin three days after the incident, the discussion centered on the recovery of the bodies scattered at Koricanske Stijene. Zupljanin was allegedly ‘dismayed’ and asked the Prijedor police chief Simo Drljaca menacingly to identify and bury the victims and to prosecute the perpetrators. Drljaca argued that the perpetrators were unavailable because they had been sent to the front in Eastern Bosnia. According to the witness, Zupljanin referred to a dispatch sent by Karadzic, in which he ordered the Prijedor and Knezevo leadership to deal with the issue. As the witness explained, Zupljanin brought up the dispatch to put pressure on Drljaca, to no avail.
RS defense minister Bogdan Subotic convened the second meeting on 30 August 1992. According to the witness, Drljaca ‘toned down his rhetoric’ a bit. Subotic insisted on an explanation why the non-Serbs from Prijedor were moved out in the first place. Drljaca first claimed that it was done on the orders from ‘the top’, the witness recounted. However, when Subotic told Drljaca that he had abused the order on the freedom of movement of civilians, Drljaca backed off. Some days after the massacre, Krejic personally drove a survivor of the massacre at Koricanske Stijene to the Banja Luka Security Services Center. As far as Krejic knew, the man was then handed over to the International Red Cross.
In the cross-examination, Karadzic asked the witness to confirm that the perpetrators were a ‘small group’, whose motive was looting. Although Krejic confirmed that one of the perpetrators bragged that he secured his future with the money and gold he had looted, he felt that looting was a secondary motive. ‘Those people were mentally ill because only a sick mind can commit such a crime’, Krejic insisted. The witness also confirmed that Zupljanin may have ‘made up’ Karadzic’s dispatch to strengthen his authority over the Prijedor police chief. As the witness explained, the chief of the Prijedor police treated other RS authorities as if he were an ‘independent state’.
After Krejic completed his evidence, the prosecution called former president of the Knezevo crisis staff, Milan Komljenovic. Komljenovic visited the execution site too. There he saw a ‘gruesome sight’: dead people hanging from the branches and rocks. Komljenovic then went to see Milomir Stakic and demanded that the Prijedor authorities recover the bodies from the deep canyon. He attended the meetings described by Krejic in his evidence. The notes Komljenovic took at the meetings were admitted into evidence today.
Komljenovic continues his evidence on Tuesday, 8 November 2011; he will be cross-examined by Karadzic.
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