Former president of the Bratunac municipality Ljubisav Simic confirmed that Miroslav Deronjic informed Karadzic about the ‘events’ in Kravica. On 13 July 1995, about 1,000 detainees were killed there. A couple of minutes later, the witness corrected himself, saying that Deronjic, as the civil commissioner, informed ‘those at the top’ without specifying their names

Ljubisav Simic, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicLjubisav Simic, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Before Stanislav Galic continued his evidence, this morning the judges heard the testimony of the former president of the Bratunac municipality Ljubisav Simic, who was called by Radovan Karadzic to testify about the events in Bratunac municipality in 1992 and 1995.

In his statement to the defense, Simic claimed that the situation in Bratunac deteriorated rapidly after the arrival of the paramilitaries and the volunteers. Everybody was afraid of them and no one could control them. When he spoke about July 1995, Simic said that ‘a military defeat’ was inflicted on Srebrenica, the Muslim representatives asked for the vehicles to evacuate the civilians to Kladanj. Simic claimed that he and Srbislav Davidovic, president of the municipal Executive Board, organized the ‘voluntary’ evacuation of Muslims from Bratunac to Potocari.

As the witness said several times that the people left Bratunac ‘voluntarily’, the prosecutor asked him in the cross-examination if the women and children could return to Bratunac and Srebrenica, if they had wanted to. The witness first avoided answering the question, saying that ‘nobody forced them to board the buses’. Finally he said, ‘as far as I am concerned, there would have been no problems’ if they had wanted to return. Asked if the army helped civilians who got lost in the woods or suffered some other misfortune, the witness said that he ‘can’t speak for the army’.

The prosecutor showed a report produced by the Drina Corps on 17 July 1995. The report states that fire was opened at women who showed up at the defense lines and, after the soldiers warned them, they refused to surrender. Simic said the document ‘can be interpreted in a number of ways’. Based on the example Simic couldn’t say if they had left voluntarily. The prosecutor noted that Simic was the highest-ranking representative of the civilian authorities. In that capacity Simic attended the meeting in the Fontana Hotel on 12 July 1995 when Muslim civilians were granted safety. The witness replied that the army and the police guaranteed safety. His duty was to provide ‘food and water’, Simic said.

Simic denied that he saw buses with thousands of Muslim detainees in Bratunac on 13 July 1995. He also claimed that nobody told him about the killings in the Vuk Karadzic school. In any case, Simic knew nothing about it at least untill 2008 when he testified at the State Court in Sarajevo. Simic was also quite adamant that he didn’t hear any rumors about the killings. According to him, that was not strange because he ‘didn’t expect that something like that could happen; if I had, I would have paid attention’.

As he was examined by the prosecution and the judges, Simic contended that Miroslav Deronjic informed Karadzic about the ‘events’ – the execution of more than 1,000 prisoners in the Kravica warehouse on 13 July 1995. In the re-examination, the witness corrected himself, saying, ‘I must have assumed with considerable conviction that Deronjic heard what had happened in Kravica and that it was his duty to inform Karadzic because he was expected to do so’. After Karadzic intervened, the witness explained that Deronjic in fact confirmed that he informed ‘those at the top’ without specifying their names. Simic for his part ‘wasn’t interested to learn whom Deronjic had informed’.

General Stanislav Galic returned to the witness stand after Simic completed his testimony.