The last witness this week is testifying with protective measures at the trial of Ratko Mladic. She described how girls and women detained in the primary school in Kalinovik were taken away. The trial of the former VRS Main Staff commander will resume on 17 September 2012

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

Ivo Atlija, Croat from Prijedor, completed today his evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic. The prosecution case continued with the evidence of a witness testifying under the pseudonym RM 032 and with voice and image distortion to protect her identity. The witness described what happened when she was detained in Kalinovik.

In the summary of the her statement that was admitted into evidence today the witness recounts how she was arrested with her three children on 4 July 1992 and was taken to the primary school in Kalinovik. A group of detainees was already there, mostly women and children. On 2 August 1992, Pero Elez arrived in the school and took out a girl. Then Dragoljub Kunarac, called Zaga, came and took out several girls and women. The witness never saw any of those women again. During one of his visits, the witness asked Kunarac what had happened with those women and what would happen to other prisoners. Kunarac told her that ‘the women will not come back, and everybody else will be killed’, the witness claims.

In her statement to the OTP investigators, the witness said the abuse was a regular occurrence in the primary school. The witness recounted how she heard from other women that a prisoner whose last name was Hasanbegovic had been killed on the first floor. The prisoner’s body was purportedly wrapped in a blanket, thrown into a car and taken away. Hasanbegovic was one of the few male detainees in the primary school. Just before the witness arrived in the primary school, a group of male prisoners were moved to a local gunpowder depot. Fejzija Hadzic, who was a director in the municipal service company in Kalinovik, has recently given evidence on what happened to them. Hadzic was the only survivor of the execution of 24 detainees on 5 August 1992. Pero Elez’s group took them out of the gunpowder depot. The witness and her children were released from captivity on 1 September 1992, after Serb soldiers took them ‘to be exchanged’.

Defense counsel Dragan Ivetic tried to absolve the Bosnian Serb army under the command of the accused Mladic of the responsibility for the crimes in Kalinovik. In the cross-examination, Ivetic blamed the police for the abuse of prisoners in the primary school. As for the incidents in which women were taken out, he blamed them on the Serb paramilitary formations.

The witness said that soldiers – not police officers – ‘behaved aggressively’ towards the detainees in the primary school. As he said, the men who took the girls and women out wore camouflage uniforms or ordinary olive drab military uniforms. The witness also remembered that Kunarac and his men were in camouflage uniforms, with white ribbons around heads and arms. The witness agreed when the defense counsel put it to her that during her stay in the primary school Ratko Mladic never visited the facility; indeed she hadn’t seen him there. In the pre-trial brief, the prosecution alleges that Pero Elez was a VRS soldier. Dragoljub Kunarac was sentenced before the Tribunal to 28 years in prison for the rapes of Muslim girls and women in Foca. The judges in the Kunarac case found that he was the leader of a reconnaissance detachment in the VRS Foca Tactical Group.

The prosecution hasn’t scheduled any more witnesses for this week. The trial resumes on Monday, 17 September 2012, after a one-week break.