'VOLUNTARY' DEPARTURE OF MUSLIMS FROM ROGATICA
Former president of the Crisis Staff in the Serb municipality of Rogatica Milorad Sokolovic gave evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic. Sokolovic stated that 'most' of the Muslims, about 3,000 of them, left the municipality voluntarily. The prosecutor stressed the fact that 13,000 Muslims had lived in Rogatica
Milorad Sokolovic, former president of the Crisis Staff and the Executive Board of the Serb municipality of Rogatica claimed at the trial of Ratko Mladic that the Muslims left the municipality ‘voluntarily’. About 2,500 to 3,000 Muslims left for Sarajevo before the conflict broke out on 22 May 1992. That, in Sokolovic’s view, ‘meant that most of the Muslims decided of their own free will that they would leave Rogatica’. As for the remaining Muslims, ‘their leadership organized’ the departure for Zepa and Gorazde at a later date.
In the examination-in-chief Sokolovic said that an agreement had been reached about ‘a peaceful division’ of the municipality into Serb and Muslim parts. However, in the incidents that happened soon afterwards, several Serbs were killed. According to Sokolovic, the tensions culminated with the murder of Drazenko Mihajlovic on 21 May, especially after the Muslims refused to hand over Mihajlovic’s body. This was the reason why the conflict broke out.
In the cross-examination prosecutor Arthur Traldi showed the witness the results of the 1991 census. According to the census, more than 13,000 Muslims lived in Rogatica before the beginning of the war. The prosecutor also quoted from the statement of Mile Ujic who said that he had been removed from his post as the Executive Board president because he was ‘too soft and permissive in negotiations’. 'A harsher person' had to be appointed to the post, Ujic explained. Sokolovic replied that he was offered the position of the president of the Executive Board only because of his ‘good resume’.
Sokolovic denied that the Executive Board and the Crisis Staff had anything to do with organizing the transport of the Muslim civilians towards Sarajevo, Bijeljina, Olovo and Zepa. Sokolovic claimed he didn’t know that civilians were detained at several locations in Rogatica where they were abused, raped and tortured. The witness claimed that he only knew that the civilians ‘took shelter’ from combat operations in the Veljko Vlahovic school. The police and the commander of the Rogatica Brigade Rajko Kusic should be asked about detention, torture and rape, Sokolovic said.
After Milorad Sokolovic completed his evidence, the defense called Desimir Sarenac, former security chief in the 1st Sarajevo Brigade.
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