Protected witness RM 269 described at the trial of Ratko Mladic how he, as a VRS soldier, secured the Muslims captured after the fall of Srebrenica. The men were detained in the schools in the villages of Orahovac and Rocevic near Zvornik

Ratko Mladic in the courtroomRatko Mladic in the courtroom

The procession of protected witnesses this week at the trial of Ratko Mladic continued today with the evidence of a former Republika Srpska Army soldier. Before he began his evidence, the Trial Chamber warned the witness, who is testifying under the pseudonym RM 269, that he had the right not to give any answers that might incriminate him. Most of his testimony proceeded in closed session.

The witness confirmed that on 14 July 1995, he was one of the guards near the school in the village of Orahovac near Zvornik. He estimates that about 700 to 800 Muslims captured after the fall of Srebrenica were brought to the school in buses. The witness had to ‘provide security’ at the entrance of the school gym where the prisoners were put. Soon after the arrival of the buses, the villagers of Orahovac gathered there ‘and openly showed their anger and hatred’ towards the prisoners, the witness recounted. ‘It was dramatic and confusing’, he said. He was ordered not to allow the civilians to approach the prisoners. The witness agreed with the presiding judge’s conclusion that his task was to ‘make sure that the detainees didn’t leave the school and the civilians didn’t enter it’.

The witness claimed that he saw military police commander in the Zvornik Brigade, Miomir Jasikovac, and the security chief Drago Nikolic in front of the school. When the prisoners ‘were taken out’, the witness saw that their hands were tied. Some were blindfolded. The prisoners were put on a truck. When the truck left, bursts of gunfire could be heard from a nearby meadow. The truck returned empty and a new group of prisoners was made to climb onto it. ‘It was clear that executions were being carried out’, the witness said. He confirmed that he hadn’t been at the execution site and couldn’t say who actually killed the prisoners.

The next day the witness, Jasikovac and another military police officer from the Zvornik Brigade went to the school in Rocevic. The witness received ‘the same task as the previous day in Orahovac’. When they reached the school, the prisoners were already on a truck. The witness didn’t know where the prisoners would be taken; after a while, the trucks came back, empty. Near the school, the witness saw a number of dead bodies. As the witness heard later, one of the villagers from Rocevic who had lost his son in the war took those detainees from the school and ‘killed’ them on the spot. The witness didn’t recognize any of the soldiers he saw in front of the school. Also, the witness wasn’t able to tell who had executed the prisoners from the school in Rocevic.

The indictment that charges former VRS commander Ratko Mladic with genocide and other crimes committed in the war in BH alleges that about 1,000 Muslims were executed near the school in Orahovac on 14 July 1995. The Muslims were captured after the fall of Srebrenica. About 500 Muslims who were held in the school in Rocevic were killed the next day in Kozluk.

Ratko Mladic’s trial continued with the evidence of yet another protected witness who testified in closed session.