Former deputy commander of the Rajlovac Brigade has admitted that in June 1992 there were 'those who would not take orders', i.e. the paramilitaries, who would beat Muslim prisoners in the Rajlovac military barracks. Nevertheless, the witness denied any knowledge of prisoners being taken out of the military barracks to do forced labor. The witness claimed he did not know that at least 47 prisoners were killed in a bus en route to Pale

Mihajlo Vujasin, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMihajlo Vujasin, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In his statement to Ratko Mladics defense Mihajlo Vujasin, a Bosnian Serb military officer, corroborated the defense case about the Sarajevo theatre of war. The defense argues that the Serb side blockaded the BH Army 1st Corps in order to prevent their deployment elsewhere along the front lines, that the Muslim sideheld the dominant hills in the city and that the Serb army never attacked civilian targets in Sarajevo. The witness was a deputy commander of the Rajlovac Brigade. In September 1992, Vujasin was appointed the chief engineer in the Corps command.

In a brief examination-in-chief, Vujasin stated that in June 1992 the accused ordered the handover of the airport to UNPROFOR despite the resistance of some elements in the military and of the Serb civilians authorities. The witness also claimed that the Serbs from Sarajevo were prevented from leaving the city. The goal of the Muslim authorities was to create an image of multi-ethnicity and to garner the sympathy of the international community, Vujasin noted. Serbs were allowed to leave only if they paid a lot of money.

The witness said in his statement to the defense that his unit didnt have snipers or any artillery pieces bigger than the 82mm caliber. This prompted the prosecutor to show in the cross-examination a document which indicatethat the Rajlovac Brigade had put in a requisition for 9,000 bullets for 7.9mm snipers and 50 105mm shells. The witness admitted that the brigade did have rifles with optical sights which used 7.9 mm bullets. The shells were ordered for the units that had such artillery pieces, the witness explained. Those units then fired on targets set by the witnesss command.

In late May 1992, while the witness was temporarily in command ofthe duty of the Rajlovac Brigade, the unit took part in an attack on the village of Ahatovici. Hundreds of civilians, including women and children, were taken to the Rajlovac military barracks and held there. Vujasin explained that it was an attempt to protect civilians from the Serb paramilitary groups. The witness however did admit that in some cases the prisoners were abused. Earlier, in his testimony at Karadzic's trial, Vujasin said he knew about one or two cases when prisoners were beaten up. Today the witness agreed that there were two, three or maybe moresuch cases. Vujasin also didnt deny the allegations made in an article by the France Press agency (AFP) that a prisoner was beaten to death. However, Vujasin stressed that his soldiers didnt do that; the culprits were those who would not obey, i.e. members of the irregular groups.

The same article went on to note that in mid-June some Muslims were taken out of the military barracks and put on a bus. En route to Pale the bus stopped, ostensibly because it had broken down. Fire was opened on the bus and at least 47 persons were killed. Vujasin insisted that knew nothing about the incident. When the prosecutor put it to him that the French readers knew about the incident, yet he as the deputy commander of the Rajlovac Brigade didnt know about it, the witness would not budge. When the presiding judge asked the witness if he had ever ordered an investigation of the bus massacre,the witness said he did not. The killing of the prisoners in the Rajlovac military barracks and in the bus are listed in the part of the indictment against Ratko Mladic pertaining to the joint criminal enterprise whose aim it was to ethnically cleanse a number of BH municipalities in 1992. Mihajlo Vujasin will end his testimony tomorrow.