WITNESS WHO HEARD AND SAW NOTHING
Former guard in the Susica prison camp Momir Deuric claimed that he ‘didn’t hear and see’ the abuse and murder of Muslim civilians. He even dismissed the story of a detainee who recounted how the witness had saved him from certain death. The two other witnesses Karadzic called today in his defense denied Serb crimes in Eastern BH
Radovan Karadzic continues denying the crimes of the Serb forces in Eastern BH. Today he called three more witnesses to corroborate his case. The first witness, Zoran Durmic, a police inspector from the Milici municipality claimed that in the spring of 1992 Muslim forces attacked the Serb villages ‘on a daily basis’, killing civilians in that area. Serbs had no choice but to rally to defend themselves.
Prosecutor Sutherland noted that the Serb forces committed many crimes against Muslim civilians while defending themselves. Among the crimes is the murder of more than 60 villagers from the village of Zaklopaca in the Vlasenica region on 16 May 1992. The report of a police officer on duty in the Public Security Station in Milici on that day noted that the entire police ‘personnel’ participated in the ‘clean-up operation’ in the village of Zaklopaca. The witness replied that he and his colleagues from the Milici police were in charge only of securing a stretch of the road near the village. Durmic said that there were some ‘rumors’ about the crime after the operation but nothing more than that.
After Durmic completed his evidence, Karadzic called Sveto Veselinovic, former president of the Serbian Democratic Party from Rogatica and a member of the Crisis Staff and other municipal bodies there. In his statement to the defense, Veselinovic said that Muslims first captured Rogatica in the spring of 1992. When a Serb police officer was killed on 22 May 1992 a ‘large-scale conflict’ broke out and Serbs took over the town, the witness recounted. As the president of the municipal committee for refugees, the witness claimed that he was among the first to enter Rogatica. Although Veselinovic had taken with him a ‘group of retired carpenters’ to secure the abandoned Muslim houses, he admitted that he had failed to achieve his goal. Nevertheless, the witness blamed the Muslims for the destruction of houses and business facilities; Muslims had been in the town until the Serb army entered it. The witness corroborated his claims with photos he took, showing the broken shop windows in ‘liberated’ Rogatica.
In the cross-examination, prosecutor Gustafson put it to the witness that his evidence was ‘false’. The prosecutor said that in fact Serbs shelled the center of Rogatica where Muslims lived on 22 May 1992 and then the town was overrun by the infantry. Veselinovic didn’t agree with her, repeating that ‘total war’ followed the murder of the Serb policeman; in the war, the Serbs seized the town.
Momir Deuric, the third witness to take the stand today, was a guard in the Susica prison camp near Vlasenica from the spring to September 1992. As alleged in the indictment, numerous crimes against Muslim detainees, including brutal murders, were committed in that period. The witness contends that prisoners were billeted in a new building of the Territorial Defense in Susica while he guarded the military equipment in the old facility nearby. The witness first claimed categorically that no one was killed at the site and that he ‘didn’t hear or see anything’. According to the witness only two detainees died of heart attack.
Prosecutor Amir Zec confronted the witness with the allegations made by Dragan Nikolic Jenki in his guilty plea before the Tribunal about his involvement in the murders and with the judgment delivered by the BH State Court to two prison guards in Susica. The witness then admitted that there ‘were killings’ in Susica but he himself did not see any. One detainee, whose name was not disclosed, told the investigators that Jenki once placed a gun barrel in his mouth. The man claimed he was saved when Momir Deuric arrived; the detainee knew Deuric from before the war. The witness dismissed the possibility that his arrival saved the life of his pre-war friend and claimed that he didn’t see anything of the sort. In his statement to the defense, Deuric said that in late September 1992 the prison camp was closed and all prisoners ‘were taken away to be exchanged’ immediately before the closure. The prosecutor confronted Deuric with the evidence that in fact all 140 remaining detainees were killed on 30 September 1992. The witness once again said that he didn’t know anything about it as he left Susica some days earlier and didn’t return until 1994.
According to the existing schedule, former Portuguese diplomat Jose Cutileiro should testify tomorrow at the request of Karadzic’s defense.