According to Jefto Jankovic, investigating judge from Banja Luka, the massacre at Koricanske Stijene was committed by criminals and ‘infiltrated elements’ acting on the orders of foreign intelligence services to paint Serbs as murderers

Jefto Jankovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trialJefto Jankovic, witness at the Radovan Karadzic trial

Investigating judge from Banja Luka Jefto Jankovic testified in Radovan Karadzic’s defense. Jankovic claimed that during the war the Republika Srpska judiciary paid no heed to the ethnic background of victims and perpetrators. All crimes were prosecuted without exception. To corroborate his claim Jankovic said that two Serb perpetrators were convicted for crimes against Muslims: one was sentenced to one and a half years for looting, and the other got eight years in prison for robbery and murder.

The witness stated that during the war he had worked at two locations related to the indictment against Karadzic. On 30 July 1992 the witness carried out an investigation in the Manjaca prison camp where two Muslim detainees had been killed. On 23 August 1992 Jankovic was at Koricanske Stijene, where Serb police officers killed about 200 Muslims from Prijedor two days before.

Jankovic said that in the first case the investigation resulted in an indictment; the military police officers who were responsible were eventually tried. In the cross-examination, the prosecutor noted that Jankovic forgot to mention one small detail: the trial took place in 2007 before a ‘different body’. In the other case, there was no investigation until the Tribunal’s investigators joined in.

Speaking about Koricanske Stijene, the witness said in the statement to the defense team that the crime was committed by criminals and ‘infiltrated elements’ acting on the orders of foreign intelligence services in a bid to portray Serbs as murderers. Jankovic had failed to mention this in his interview with the OTP investigators in July 2001. As the prosecutor noted, at that time Jankovic said that immediately after the crime he had learned that mostly Muslims were killed there and that the perpetrators had been Serb police officers who had been escorting the convoy. In the same interview the witness stated that it wasn’t possible to investigate crimes committed by the police.

In a bid to contest his previous allegations Jankovic said that during the ’20-hour long interview’ he was ‘intimidated and abused’ by a ‘police officer from Pakistan’. The Pakistani police officer ‘was not at my level’, had not prepared for the interview and ‘shouldn’t be trusted’ because he was interested only in the crimes against Muslims and not those against Serbs. The presiding judge noted that there was an audio recording of the entire interview, and the issue did not revolve about whether to trust the ‘police officer from Pakistan’ or not. The prosecutor asked the witness to go through the transcript of the interview during one of the breaks and to show where he had been ‘intimidated’. The witness couldn’t find any such instances. The transcript ‘makes it look as if it had been all milk and honey, but it wasn’t so’.

As the cross-examination continued, the prosecutor recalled the testimony of Slobodan Avlijas, Bosnian Serb deputy justice minister, who said that the ‘entire Republika Srpska’ knew about the crime at Koricanske Stijene, and that chief of the Prijedor police should have been arrested for it. Jankovic replied that there were just ‘speculations’ about the involvement of the police. The problem in the investigation was that ‘murderers always hide, just like drug dealers or adulterers’. In his statement to Karadzic’s defense team, former Bosnian Serb interior minister Mico Stanisic blamed Jefto Jankovic for the fact that there had been no serious investigation of the Koricanske Stijene case. ‘Formally, I am guilty, but how could I, holding a planner in my hand and wearing a sweater, arrest uniformed and armed perpetrators’, the witness asked by way of a response.