Mladic’s witness claimed that Rasadnik and the high school in Rogatica were ‘shelters’ where civilians felt ‘free and safe’. The prosecutor countered the allegation with the Bosnian Serb army lists referring to elderly women as ‘prisoners of war’ and ‘detained civilians’

Novica Andric, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialNovica Andric, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Former military police officer from Rogatica Novica Andric gave evidence in Ratko Mladics defense. Andric denied the allegations in the indictment about the crimes against the non-Serbs in that municipality, primarily the abuse and killings in the local detention centers: Rasadnik and Veljko Vlahovic high school.

According to Andric, in the spring of 1992 a 'shelter for civilianswas set up in the high school. In September 1992, when the school year began, civilians were transferred to Rasadnik where a military detention unit had previously been set up. In a brief examination-in-chief, the witness said that he would go to Rasadnik from time to time in his capacity as a police officer, but he never noticed that the detainees were abused.

Andrics description of the Veljko Vlahovic school as a shelter where, in his words, people felt free and safeprompted presiding judge Orie to note that the Tribunals courtroom could also be called a shelter, because people or most of them at least felt free and safe in it. The witness said that it was a shelter in war conditions, a sort of a safe housefor the civilians. Asked how he knew that the people in there were safe, Andric said it was just his assumption. In Andrics words, he didnt hearabout any provocations in the school.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Bibles showed the witness lists drafted by the Bosnian Serb army with names of elderly women who were transferred from the school to the Rasadnik prison camp. One of the women was 101 years old. As Andric insisted that the civilians in Rasadnik were freeand that they had sought shelter there, the prosecutor asked him why the military documents referred to civilians as prisoners of warand detained civilians.

That is not within my purview, Andric replied tersely. He didnt know how the bodies of some of those prisoners, including several old women, were found in a mass grave near Rogatica.

Avdo Palic, former BH Army commander from Zepa, was also on the list of prisoners from Rogatica. On 27 July 1995, Palic was arrested during the negotiations with the Bosnian Serb military leadership. Palic was first detained in an apartment in Rogatica, and was then transferred to Vanekov mlin, a prison in Bijeljina. He went missing. His remains were recovered from amass grave near Rogatica. Andric didnt deny that he personally drove the men who were guarding Palic in the Rogatica apartment and that he and Zoran Carkic, an officer in the Rogatica Brigade, took Palic to Bijeljina.Andric denied any knowledge of Palic's fate after that.

In his statement to the defense, the witness denied that four members of the Hurko family were detained and beaten in the garage that belonged to his father, Miodrag Andric, in mid- August 1995. One of the detainees was later taken out and killed. Novica Andric explained that three persons whose last name was Hurko spent 15 minutes in the garage but were treated properly. The detainees were even offered coffee and were later taken to the high school and from there to Rasadnik.Stojan Perkovics statements was shown to Andric in the course of the cross-examination. Perkovic pleaded guilty before the BH State Court to beating prisoners in Andrics garage. The witness replied that he didnt know under what circumstancesPerkovic had made the plea and remained adamant that there had been no crimes in the garage.

The trial of Ratko Mladic continued with the testimony of Obrad Bubic, former Bosnian Serb army soldier from Kotor Varos.