Stojan Dzino, former member of the Bosnian Serb Army, took part in the attack on the village of Ahatovici near Sarajevo. Dzino spoke about the allegations in the indictment about the aftermath of the attack: the detention, beating and killing of Muslims and the destruction of the local mosque

Stojan Dzino, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialStojan Dzino, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Almost all the witnesses called by Ratko Mladic’s defense have claimed that the BH Army outnumbered the Bosnian Serbs, who only defended themselves in the Sarajevo theatre of war. Former member of the Rajlovac Brigade Stojan Dzino also described the fighting in the village of Ahatovici in late May and early June 1992. According to the indictment, several crimes were committed during and after the attack on Ahatovici. Muslim men were detained and beaten up. Some of them were killed. The local mosque was burned down.

According to Dzino, on 29 May 1992 the Muslim forces attacked the Serb positions in the Rajlovac municipality. In the ‘counterattack’ that ensued the village of Ahatovici was captured. The witness, who commanded one of the platoons in the Rajlovac Brigade, was able to recall that his soldiers captured 19 BH Army soldiers. The prisoners were treated ‘humanely’ and were taken to the Rajlovac military barracks.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Edward Jeremy put it to the witness that not all of the Muslim prisoners were taken there. Many of them were beaten badly in the military barracks, some of them to death. Dzino replied that a month or two later he learned that ‘such things happened’ in the military barracks. The prosecutor confronted the witness with the allegation in mid-June 1992 that a group of Muslims from Ahatovici was taken out of the military barracks and taken to Pale by bus. The bus stopped en route, ostensibly because it had broken down. Mortar and infantry fire was opened on the bus. It is the prosecution case that at least 47 persons were killed. The witness explained that he didn’t learn about the incident immediately; he came to know about the killing of the prisoners a long time after the incident.

As he was re-examined by defense counsel Miodrag Stojanovic, Dzino said that ‘no one knew who had attacked the bus’. The incident took place in a forest road in a ‘buffer zone’ between the Serb and Muslim forces. Presiding judge Orie interrupted the witness, telling him that he was ‘speculating’, while the Trial Chamber has already received ‘more specific evidence’ from other witnesses’. When the judges asked the witness about the source of his information, Dzino said that in 1994 he travelled down that road and saw the remains of the bus. Asked for the exact location the witness said, ‘I don’t know that, but I did see the bus’.

The destruction of religious buildings and cultural monuments is listed in the indictment against Ratko Mladic as an element of persecution. One such monument is the mosque in Ahatovici. As alleged by the prosecution, the Bosnian Serb army destroyed the mosque on 4 June 1992. Today the witness confirmed that the Serb soldiers were responsible for the destruction of the mosque. He didn’t quite know how it happened but he saw the minaret going up in the sky ‘like a space ship’.

In his statement to the defense, the witness said that 999 Serbs, 1066 Muslims and about 200 Croats had lived in the local commune of Dobrosevici, which also comprised the village of Ahatovici. However, the witness admitted that during the war the ethnic composition changed drastically. All non-Serbs apart from a single Muslim family and three Croat families left the area. Dzino nevertheless dismissed the prosecutor’s suggestion that they left because of a policy aimed at their expulsion. According to Dzino, in a war people had a natural tendency to move to the territory controlled by the same ethnic group.

After Stojan Dzino completed his evidence, a protected defense witness began his testimony in closed session.