Mladic’s defense witness Tomislav Savkic argued that the bodies of the Srebrenica inhabitants who had been killed in combat were buried in a mass grave by the road from Konjevic Polje to Nova Kasaba. The prosecutor contested the claim with photos showing that the victims had their hands tied with wire. This prompted Savkic to suggest that they might be Serbs. The DNA analysis showed that all the exhumed victims were Muslims, the prosecutor retorted

Tomislav Savkic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialTomislav Savkic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

At the beginning of the war Tomislav Savkic joined the Bosnian Serb army. By November 1992, he was the commander of the 1st Infantry Battalion in Milici, and a year later he was appointed the president of the Serb municipality of Milici. The municipality had been carved out of the original municipality of Vlasenica. Prior to his testimony at Mladic's trial, Savkic has already appeared as a defense witness at the trials of Momcilo Krajisnik and Radovan Karadzic.

Savkic blamed Muslims for starting the war. In Savkics view, the Muslims didnt accept the peaceful division of the town, opting instead for armed conflicts with Serbs. The Serb leadership got the information that a general Muslim attack on Vlasenica was being prepared, Savkic claimed. The JNA units and the local Serbs in the Territorial Defense ranks prevented the conflict by entering into and capturing the town without fighting.

The defense counsel asked the witness about the source of the information that the Muslims had been preparing an all-out attack on the town. Savkic said that a cleaning lady gave the local Serb leadership a notebook she had taken from the office of Izet Redzic, the pre-war president of the municipal executive board. The notebook was shown in court. When the presiding judge asked the witness to show him the reference to an all-out attack, the witness gave him a quote about the organization of the defense. I find it hard to understand how the organization of defense was a clear indication of an impending attack, judge Orie noted.

The phrase 'cattle to be slaughtered' is used in the same document. According to Savkic, this was the reference to a list of distinguished Serbs who were to be killed. The list was not presented, because an army colonel by the name of Radovan Tacic took it with him to Serbia, the witness explained. According to the prosecutor, the list does not exist and the words cattle to be slaughteredwere added to Redzics notebook later.Savkic rejected the suggestion admitting nevertheless that he had no direct knowledge about the notebook from that time. He explained that he heard about the document at a later stage from his Serb acquaintances in Vlasenica. As the prosecutor remarked, this would explain why the witness didnt mention it at the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik in 2006.

In the cross-examination, the prosecutor also focused on the claim in the witnesss statement to the defense that many of the Muslims whose bodies were buried along the road from Konjevic Polje to Nova Kasaba in July 1995 had in fact been killed in the attempt to break through to the BH-held territory.The victims were not executed, Savkic said, contradicting the prosecution case. Based on what Savkic said to Mladics defense team, it could be concluded that the victims had been killed fighting Serbs. At the trial of Radovan Karadzic Savkic stated that the victims died as they fired at each other in the night unwittingly.

Prosecutor Traldi dismissed both scenarios, stressing that most of the bodies recovered from the grave had their hands tied. This is proof that the victims were detained and executed. To corroborate the suggestion the prosecutor presented a photo showing several bodies with hand ligatures. Savkic replied that those might in fact be the bodies of the two Serb fighters who had gone missing in that area in July 1995. Asked by the presiding judge whether the bodies recovered there were subjected to DNA tests, the prosecutor said they had been, noting that the remains were those of Muslims.

As todays hearing drew to a close the defense called Trivko Pljevaljcic from Foca, who served in the Bosnian Serb army during the war.