WHO WERE THE VICTIMS OF ORIC'S ATTACK ON BIJELOVAC: CIVILIANS OR SOLDIERS?
In her evidence at Ratko Mladic's trial, Slavka Matic described the attack of the Muslim forces on the village of Bjelovac in the Srebrenica municipality in December 1992. According to Matic, 68 persons were killed in the attack, including her husband and two daughters. Using VRS documents, the prosecutor showed that 55 victims were members of the Bratunac Brigade
Despite the repeated warnings by the judges that the crimes committed by the Bosnian Serbs cannot be justified by the crimes committed by the other side, Ratko Mladic's defense continues calling evidence about the attacks launched by Muslim troops on various Serb villages in the Podrinje region in late 1992 and early 1993. It is the defense case that the crimes committed by Oric's forces made the local Serbs long for revenge. The feeling culminated in the events after the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.
Witness Slavka Matic lost husband and two daughters in the attack on the village of Bjelovac in the Srebrenica municipality on 14 December 1992. Testifying in Ratko Mladic's defense, the witness described how that morning she went to the school where the makeshift kitchen was. The witness was to serve breakfast to the fighters from the village guard. The witness was en route to the school, when the shooting started. Gunfire continued while the witness worked in the school. When she tried to go back, the witness saw houses on fire. She also heard her neighbor Hajrudin Berzadic urging 'Chetniks' to surrender. Berzadic shouted that he would 'catch them alive', Matic recounted.
As she was trying to get back to her house, the witness saw her husband's body. She recognized his clothers. The witness did not find the bodies of her daughters until the day after. One of her daughters lay in a pool of blood on the family house doorstep. The other daughter was in the kitchen. As the witness recounted, she buried her family members in the Bratunac cemetery. According to her, the people who lost their family members 'were revolted' and kept asking why their village was attacked.
According to the witness, 68 persons, including 10 women, were killed in the attack on Bjelovac. Matic didn't return to Bjelovac until 1997. Now, the witness explained,'I live there alone, like a tree without branches'.
In the cross-examination, the prosecutor produced a VRS Bratunac Brigade report which shows that 55 fighters and seven civilians were killed on 14 December 2015 in the clashes with Naser Oric's forces. The prosecutor went on to note that the names of the witness's husband and two daughters, Gordana and Snezana Matic, were on the list of casualties in the Bratunac Brigade. All three victims, the report stated, were killed in combat, fighting for the village.
The witness agreed there were both soldiers and civilians among the victims. Nevertheless, Matic argued that civilians outnumbered the soldiers. Matic said that her husband was 'probably' in the brigade ranks. She didn't know that her daughters were mobilized, the witness explained. Her daughters died on 'their doorstep' and they didn't even 'have a stick in their hands to defend themselves', Matic stressed.
Ratko Mladic's trial continued with the evidence of Slobodan Radulj, former deputy military prosecutor in Banja Luka.