Ljubisa Beara’s defense case continues at the trial for Srebrenica and Zepa crimes. Another witness, journalist Branimir Grulovic, was called as Beara’s character witness. Grulovic talked about the former chief of the security administration in the VRS Main Staff based on his private and professional contacts with the accused during the war

Branimir Grulovic, defence witness of Ljubisa BearaBranimir Grulovic, defence witness of Ljubisa Beara

Branimir Bata Grulovic was chief of Reuters Bureau for Yugoslavia in Belgrade from 1992 until 1997. He first met Ljubisa Beara when the war began in BH. From their contacts he formed his impression of Beara as a man with ‘a penetrating stare and firm ‘handgrip’; Beara, he explained, kept his ‘noble’ nature below the surface. He came to that conclusion after he witnessed Beara’s reactions when he talked to his mother with a great deal of concern, when he wept listening to a young Bosniak officer talking to his parents and when Beara talked to Grulovic about his children and family.

Former Reuters journalist recounted that on 11 July 1995, when Srebrenica fell, he was at the forward command post of the VRS 2nd Krajina Corps. Colonel Beara also happened to be there. He used his acquaintance with the Main Staff chief of security to confirm the information about the fall of Srebrenica. Beara kept telling him that he knew nothing about that, Grulovic contends. At the time Reuters was not allowed to enter Republika Srpska, the witness went on to say, since the Republika Srpska Press Center located in Pale and headed by Radovan Karadzic’s daughter Sonja refused to issue them accreditations. According to Grulovic, only the VRS helped him get into the RS territory while Sonja Karadzic was ‘rude’, and rejected his requests.

Grulovic claims that Karadzic’s daughter had unrestricted control over the media and that this was outside of the army jurisdiction. In the cross-examination, the prosecutor brought up an intercepted conversation between Sonja Karadzic and a VRS officer that appeared to show that the VRS was actually in charge of granting press permits. Grulovic rejected this allegation, saying that he was sure ‘Sonja Karadzic directly’ prevented him from doing his job, whereas the witness always enjoyed ‘exceptional cooperation’ with the army and high-ranking VRS officers.

Since the defense had indicated Grulovic would give evidence on ‘the non-discriminatory mindset’ of the accused towards other ethnic groups, the prosecutor showed the witness documents signed by Beara in which Muslims were called ‘balija’. The prosecutor asked the witness if the use of this expression actually indicated Beara did have a discriminatory attitude towards Bosniaks. Former Reuters journalist replied that he didn’t know what the word balija meant. If the meaning of that words were explained to him, he said, he might be able to answer the prosecutor’s question.

The trial of seven Bosnian Serb army and police officers charged with crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa continues tomorrow with the evidence of Marinko Jevdjevic, former commander of a military police platoon in the VRS Main Staff.