Savo Bojanovic, former judge in the Bijeljina military court, claims that during the war Serb soldiers were put on trial for crimes against Croats and Muslims. The prosecutor shows that those were isolated cases. No one was ever convicted of the gravest crimes such as murders and as for robbery and looting, the culprits would get probation, the prosecutor notes

Savo Bojanovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trialSavo Bojanovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial

Savo Bojanovic, former judge in the Bijeljina military court, explained in his statement to Ratko Mladics defense that the military court was established in mid-July 1992. The court's territorial jurisdiction coincided with the area of responsibility of the Eastern Bosnia Corps and Drina Corps. The witness was adamant that the court was impartial: the judges were not in the Serbian Democratic Party. The law was applied consistently regardless of the ethnic background of the perpetrators and victims.

To corroborate the claim, the witness listed several investigations against Serb soldiers for various crimes against Muslims like murder, rape and looting. Bojanovic said that as a judge he was never put under pressure, but was allowed to do his job in accordance with the law.

In the cross-examination, prosecutor Traldi noted that the proceedings against Serbs for the gravest crimes such as killing of non-Serb civilians and prisoners in most cases did not result in convictions. For example, a case was referred to a civilian court because it had been established that the suspects were not soldiers. In several cases the perpetrators were released pending the trial, even though they were charged with murder, and then they fled.

The witness remained adamant that Serbs soldiers had been prosecuted. He described the murder in Vanekov Mlin in Bijeljina in February 1993. The witness was the duty investigative judge when he received a report that some soldiers of the 2nd Krajina Brigade returning from the frontline had killed two prisoners from the Batkovic prison camp there. The victims had beensent to workin the mill. In the course of the crime scene investigation, the witness established that one victim was shot, and that the other had his head cut off. He ordered the investigation to continue, issued an arrest warrant for unknown perpetrators and handed over the case to the permanent investigative judge and the public prosecutor's office. In the cross-examination he admitted that the case never proceeded beyond that point: when the war ended, the perpetrators were still at large.

Some of the cases Bojanovic mentioned never proceeded to trial, and some were later referred to civilian courts including the BH State Court after the war.

According to the prosecutor, Serb perpetrators were convicted before the Bijeljina military court only for looting Muslim and Croat houses;almost all of them got probation. The witness admitted that this was thepolicy, agreed upon and implemented in order not to weaken the military strength ofthe VRS. Prison sentences were passed occasionally for the gravest crimes, the witness added.

The examination of Dusan Kukobat was completed in the final half-hour of the hearing today. Kukobat is the former chief of staff of the 17th Light Infantry Brigade from Kljuc. In his statement, Kukobrat described his units combat activities and his war-time encounters with Mladic. The witness said that the accused always stressed that soldiers were not allowed to commit crimes against non-Serb civilians and prisoners of war.

In the cross-examination the prosecutor noted that several officers from the witnesss brigade including the unit commander Drago Samardzija were charged by the State Court in Sarajevo with crimes against Muslims and Croats in Kljuc. Kukobat replied that he didnt know anything about the crimes. During the war he was on the front line, and did not spend time in the inhabited parts of the Kljuc municipality, the witness explained. The trial of Ratko Mladic continues on Monday.

Savo Bojanovic, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial
Dusan Kukobat, defence witness at Rako Mladic trial