WITNESS: WE AVOIDED MLADIC LIKE PLAGUE
Former platoon commander in the Bratunac Brigade Zoran Kovacevic claimed at the trial of Ratko Mladic that he didn’t see or hear about anyone from Bratunac participating in the effort to separate the men from the rest of the people in Potocari. Kovacevic admitted that he was in Potocari on 12 July 1995. However, after his brief encounter with Mladic, Kovacevic tried to leave as soon as possible. Everyone avoided Mladic ‘like plague’, the witness said
Zoran Kovacevic, former platoon commander in the 2nd Battalion of the Bratunac Brigade, claimed at the trial of Ratko Mladic that he had not participated in the effort to separate the men from the women and children in Potocari after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995. The witness said that he didn’t see or hear about anyone fromthe Serb military and civilian authorities from Bratunac being involved in that operation.
In his statement to the defense Kovacevic said that on 12 July 1995 his unit was ordered to clean up the terrain along the roads in Potocari. When they entered Potocari, the witness came acrossMladic. After the encounter, the witness and his whole unit took shelter behind a building 50 meters from the entrance to the UN base. The witness remained there for about an hour. In that period, the witness said he ‘didn’t see any abuse of the Muslim population, or the separation of the men from the women and children’.
Prosecutor Abeer Hasan confronted the witness in the cross-examination with the statement made by Nedziba Salihovic to the Bosnian MUP on 26 July 1995. Salihovic stated that on 12 July 1995 she saw her neighbors Zoran Kovacevic and Momir Nikolic separating men from women and children. Kovacevic confirmed that he knew Nedziba Salihovic. He heard that Salihovic was saying he had taken her son from her arms in Potocari. ‘This has nothing to do with the truth’, Kovacevic was categorical.
As far as he knew, the witness said, no one from the Bratunac military and civilian authorities had taken part in the effort to separate the men from the women and children in Potocari. The only person who took part in the operation was Momir nicknamed Penzijica, chief of security in the VRS Bratunac Brigade, who pleaded guilty for the Srebrenica crimes at the Tribunal.
The prosecution alleges that Nikolic and Kovacevic both took part in the operation to separate the men from the women and children on 12 July 1995 in Potocari. According to the prosecution, the witness denied it now because he knew that the men would be killed. Kovacevic, on the other hand, claimed that he last saw Nikolic a month before the operation in Srebrenica. According toKovacevic, he spent less than an hour in Potocari. After his encounter with Mladic, Kovacevic wanted to leave as soon as possible because ‘when the general showed up, we avoided him like a plague’.
At the end of thehearing, presiding judge Orie ordered the parties to use the court time more efficiently. The Trial Chamber was concerned about the ‘time lost’ calling evidence of ‘questionable relevance’. The witnesses' testimonies are either ‘too general’ or pertain to the facts that the parties don't contest, the presiding judge warned. The defense was ordered to refrain from calling such evidence in the future, while the prosecution should not pay attention to this evidence in the cross-examination. If not, the Trial Chamber will have to interrupt the irrelevant testimony and reject any irrelevant exhibits, including the witnesses’ written statements.
The trial of Ratko Mladic continues after the Tribunal’s summer recess, on Monday, 25 August 2014.
- Case : Mladic
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- 2014-08-25 DID SERBS ASSIST CROATS FOR HUMANITARIAN OR OPPORTUNISTIC REASONS?
- 2014-08-25 MLADIC’S DEFENSE: WE DON’T WASTE COURT TIME
- 2014-08-26 DOCUMENTS FULL OF ‘ERRORS’