Protected witness RM 81 has testifies at the trial of Ratko Mladic about the campaign of arrests, beatings, murder and rape in Rogatica; most of these incidents occurred in the Veljko Vlahovic school after the fall of Rogatica in May 1992. The witness contends that Rajko Kusic was in charge of the prison facility. Kusic was angry because the Muslims ‘refuse to cooperate’, making it impossible for him to meet his ‘deadline to cleanse Rogatica’; he was to report to Pale about the progress

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

The trial of Ratko Mladic continued today with the evidence of a protected witness testifying under the pseudonym RM 81. The witness described how the Serb forces shelled and captured Rogatica in May 1992. He also talked about the campaign of arrests, beatings, murder and rape in the following months. The witness already testified about it at the trials of Momcilo Krajisnik and Radovan Karadzic. The written statement the witness gave to the OTP investigators in September 2011 was admitted into evidence at Mladic’s trial.

Prosecutor Silvia D’Ascoli read out a brief summary of the statement in court. According to it, after shelling Rogatica for some days, the Serb forces entered the town on 21 and 22 May 1992. Muslims were ordered to surrender and were then detained in the Veljko Vlahovic secondary school. There were about 1,100 civilians in the school, mostly women, children, elderly and sick. During the three and a half months of detention, many of them were beaten, raped and/or killed.

In the examination-in chief, the prosecutor brought up a regular daily report sent by the VRS Rogatica Brigade on 11 June 1992. The Rogatica Brigade was under the command of Rajko Kusic. The report stated that there ‘are no major enemy activities’, that a large number of Muslim civilians ‘are arriving’ in the town every day, that they ‘are billeted’ in the school and at other locations. The witness agreed that the people of Rogatica hadn’t offered any resistance to the Serb forces. He insisted, though, that the civilians were not ‘arriving’ in the school because they wanted to: they were taken away from their homes and detained there.

The witness was shown a payroll of the Rogatica active police force from May 1992. On the list, the witness identified three men who had been seen taking women away to be raped. The witness also identified the person who interrogated detainees. On the list of the Bosnian Commission for Missing Persons, the witness identified the men who had been arrested and executed by Serb soldiers during the capture of Rogatica. The witness learned from a survivor that Serb soldiers had taken them to Rasadnik. The Serb guards in the school told the witness that the men had been killed under a bridge en route to the Partisan cemetery.

The witness contends that the prison camp in the Veljko Vlahovic school was under the command of Rajko Kusic. When he visited the school in late June or early July 1992, Kusic complained that people ‘refuse to cooperate’ and that it ‘is causing him problems’, because he had been given ‘a deadline for the cleansing of Rogatica’ and that he ‘must report to Pale’.

As the prosecutor noted, the Serb forces destroyed two mosques in Rogatica, Carsijska mosque and Arnaudija mosque, after they took over the town. The witness said that a Serb soldier named Danko Neric took part in the destruction of the Arnaudija Mosque. Neric wore an olive drab military uniform of the former JNA with red and white ribbons on the epaulettes.

As the hearing drew to a close, Mladic’s defense began cross-examining the witness. The cross-examination will resume on Monday, 8 October 2012.