Mladic’s defense witness Obrad Bubic from Kotor Varos claimed today that in July 1992, the BH Army members had held him captive for 15 days, and had starved and beaten him. The prosecutor did not contest the allegations, focusing instead on the killings, detention, rape, destruction of religious facilities and other crimes that had, according to the indictment, reached the scale of genocide in that municipality

Obrad Bubic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialObrad Bubic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Former Bosnian Serb soldier from Kotor Varos Obrad Bubic described in his statement to the defense how on 4 July 1992 he attended the funeral of some Serb fighters killed in an attack on the village of Vecici. On their way back from the funeral, Bubic and three other members of the army and police were ambushed by the BH Army. The witness, the sole survivor of the ambush, was then captured and ‘badly beaten' by Muslims and Croats he knew from before. As Bubic recounted, he was held captive for 15 days without food and was beaten regularly. After his release and recovery, Bubic joined the 1st Kotor Varos Brigade.

In the cross-examination prosecutor Traldi didn’t contest the witness’s claims about his captivity. Instead, the prosecutor focused on the violence against the non-Serbs in Kotor Varos. The town is one of the six municipalities where – as alleged in the indictment against Mladic – the crimes reached the scale of genocide.

The prosecutor put it to the witness that a number of crimes were committed close to the location where Bubic was on guard duty before his capture. First, the prosecutor noted, nearby apartments and houses were searched and non-Serbs were taken out. Muslims and Croats were detained in a prison facility set up in a nearby sawmill, and a Catholic church was burned down, the prosecutor said. Bubic admitted that some people were taken out of their houses but denied that it was part of a campaign. According to Bubic, there was a ‘collection center’ in the sawmill for those persons ‘who had expressed their desire’ to leave Kotor Varos. The church was burned down on 2 July 1992, but after the war it was ‘restored to how it previously was’, the witness said.

The prosecutor told the witness that the crimes against non-Serbs continued after Bubic’s 15-day detention. In mid-August 1992, a group of Muslims from the village of Hanifici were detained in a local mosque and shot to death. The witness replied that he ‘unfortunately had heard’ about that event but didn’t know who ordered and perpetrated the killing.

According to the prosecutor, on 28 June 1992 a girl from the Croatian village of Orahovo was raped in the witness’s weekend house in the village of Dabovica. Four perpetrators were indicted in 1993 but they have not yet received a verdict. The case has recently been referred to the BH State Court. In the meantime, one of the suspects has died. Bubic said that the rape ‘unfortunately’ did happen but he learned about it just three years ago. After he found out about it, Bubic recounted, he met one of the perpetrators – Ostoja Markovic – in the street. 'Lucky for him, he ran away from me, otherwise I would have strangled him’, Bubic said. If he ever were to testify in that case, Bubic would urge the court to hand down the harshest sentences.

The prosecutor tendered into evidence a document from the Banja Luka Public Security Center, dating from May 1993. The document reports that out of 10,640 Croats who lived in Kotor Varos municipality before the war, only about a thousand Croats remained. About 4,500 Muslims from the pre-war population ofapproximately 11,160 remained.By mid-1994 the number of Muslims was further reduced to 3,700, according to another police document. Like many Mladic’s defense witnesses, Bubic suggested that during the war everybody feared for their safety and fled to the territories under the control of their compatriots.

In the second part of today’s hearing, Branko Davidovic from Sanski Most began his evidence. Davidovic was a battalion commander in the 6th Krajina Brigade. He was later promoted to the post of the deputy commander.