Mladic’s defense witness claims that a ‘deranged person not acting under anyone’s command’ killed about 25 persons taken out from the Rasadnik prison camp in Rogatica in mid-August 1992. The prosecutor contradicts the claim, alleging that the crime was in fact committed by a unit commander in the Rogatica Brigade, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the crime before the State Court in Sarajevo

Mile Ujic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialMile Ujic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

In his evidence last week in Ratko Mladics defense, Mile Ujic, former president of the Rogatica municipality Executive Board, tried to present the crimes against local non-Serbs as local incidents. In mid-August 1992, 25 prisoners were taken from the Rasadnik prison camp and executed by a deranged person, not acting under anyones command, Ujic stated. In the cross-examination today, the prosecutor suggested that the deranged person' was in fact Dragoje Paunovic Spiro. It cannot be said that he wasnot acting under anyones commandbecause he was the commander of one of the units in the Rogatica Brigade.

In 1992, Ujic also served as the chief of staff and the deputy commander of the Rogatica Brigade, in addition to his political function. He agreed with the prosecutor that Paunovic ordered the execution of the prisoners from Rasadnik, and that Radislav Ljubinac took them out of the prison camp. As the witness explained,he heard about the incident immediately after it had happened. Initially, there wereonly speculationsthat Paunovic was responsible, Ujic said, and those speculations were later confirmed by an investigation.

Since the perpetrator was a commander in the Bosnian Serb military structure headed at the time by the accused Ratko Mladic, prosecutor Traldi asked the witness if Paunovic had been punished. Ujic admitted that no sanctions were taken against Paunovic. Both the brigade commander and the witness as the deputy commander failed to punish Paunovic, the witness agreed.

In fact,Ujic testified before the BH State Court in Sarajevo as Paunovics defense witness, the prosecutor put it to Ujic. The indictment against Paunovic charged him with one of the gravest crimes in the Rogatica area. In his evidence, Ujic forgot to mention that Paunovic had indeed committed the crime. Today Ujic said that no one in the courtroom had asked hima direct question.

Presiding judge Orie noted that in the judgment sentencing Paunovic to 20 years Ujic said that some extremists had committed the crime, not the accused. The witness tried to explain that the termextremistsas he had used it did not exclude Paunovic. Furthermore, Paunovic was only a suspect, Ujic told Judge Orie. Ujic was then confronted with his own claim that the investigation carried out by the security officers in the Brigade established that Paunovic had ordered the crimes. Ujic was evasive in his answers and finally, the presiding judge gave up.

The indictment alleges that the Rasadnik Farm in Rogatica and the Veljko Vlahovic high school were prison facilities where non-Serb civilians were held in inhumane conditions. The witness claimed that they were safe houseswhere the non-Serbs were held to protect them against possible attacks. In the prosecutors view, the incident when the prisoners were taken out and executed showed how safethe Rasadnik Farm was. The prosecutor also suggested that the police officers guarding the high school raped women who were held there. Ujic admitted that he had known about it and that he had informed the Rogatica police commander. However, he didnt press the issue when the Rogatica police commander told him not to meddle, because human heads cost less onions these days.

Ratko Mladic's trial continues tomorrow with the evidence of another defense witness.