Police officer from Bratunac Mirko Peric contends that the execution of 15 prisoners after the fall of Srebrenica at the Jadar river bank never happened because he had never heard about the crime. Additional proof was, as he said, that it was impossible for a ‘blonde woman’ to be driving a truck with the detainees. Also, the witness claimed that the warehouse where the detainees were held prior to the execution simply didn’t exist

Mirko Peric, defence witness of Radovan KaradzicMirko Peric, defence witness of Radovan Karadzic

Radovan Karadzic continues denying that the Bosnian Serb police participated in the capture and execution of 16 Srebrenica Muslims at the Jadar river bank on 13 July 1995. The evidence of Nenad Deronjic, a Bosnian Serb police officer, was followed today by the testimonies of his coleagues Mirko Peric from Bratunac police and a witness whose identity was not disclosed. The witness testified with image distortion and under the pseudonym KW 558 to protect his identity

All three witnesses flatly denied the evidence of the protected prosecution witness KDZ 065 whose evidence was admitted in the form of a written statement. He had previously testified at other trials in The Hague. The witness described how the Serb police captured him in the Konjevic Polje area, as he was trying to break out from Srebrenica. The witness was detained in several facilities and finally ended up in a warehouse near the cross-roads in Konjevic Polje. There, the witness was interrogated, beaten and then put on the bus with 15 other Bosniaks. The detainees were all taken to the Jadar river bank. The witness was the sole survivor of the execution that followed. The witness claimed that Mirko Peric brought him to the warehouse and that Nenad Deronjic took part in the execution.

Yesterday Deronjic denied the allegations. Witness KW 558 today said that he never saw Deronjic in Konjevic Polje in those days. In his statement to the defense, Mirko Peric said that he never took detainees to the warehouse. Peric added in the cross-examination that he didn’t know if the warehouse in fact existed. He manned a checkpoint on the cross-roads and he ‘could not see’ any such facility from there. Prosecutor Costi then showed him some photos which clearly indicate the warehouse was perfectly visible from the check point. The witness agreed with the prosecutor but noted that he never entered the building.

In Peric’s opinion, the key piece of evidence showing that the survivor of the execution at the Jadar river was not telling the truth is his purportedly false claim that a blonde-haired woman drove the bus to the warehouse. Peric explained that as he was manning the check point, he would have certainly notices a ‘blonde’ woman driving a bus. The prosecutor brought up the witness’s statement to the Republika Srpska police in 2003, when he said that he didn’t look carefully at the signs on the buses carrying the detainees and didn’t stop the buses at the check point. Peric admitted that this was true, but repeated that he would surely have noticed a woman driver. Finally, in his statement to the defense, the witness said that the evidence on the execution at the Jadar river bank was ‘not true’ because he had never heard of it. He did admit that he never visited the crime scene.

Although he denied that he was involved in the transfer of the detainees to the warehouse, Mirko Peric admitted that on 13 July 1995 he took a prisoner from the site in Konjevic Polje to a nearby police command post. The previous witness, KW 558, was there. The prisoner’s name was Resid Senanovic and he was a former police officer. Another pre-war MUP officer, Hasan Salihovic, was also detained in the same house.

Witness KW 558 says that he knew Salihovic well because they worked together in Bratunac. This is why when he saw Salihovic in the HQ, he offered him food, coffee and cigarettes. ‘Hasko, don’t be afraid, this is just as it was before the war when we used to sit together in watch officer’s room’, the witness told Salihovic. Soon afterwards, the security chief in the Zvornik Brigade, Momir Nikolic came to pick up the prisoners from the HQ. Their remains were found in one of the mass graves together with the bodies of other executed men from Srebrenica. The witness claimed that he first learned that the detainees were no longer alive in 2000. The witness said that, while he was in Konjevic Polje, ‘I could not imagine that something like that could happen in a worst nightmare’.

Karadzic’s trial continues on Friday with the evidence of former police inspector Dragan Andan.