Investigation 10 Dec 07

JUSTICE REPORT INVESTIGATION: Srebrenica Suspect is an RS Official

The Bosnian Serb authorities continue to employ a man linked to the separation and inhumane treatment of civilians after the fall of Srebrenica.

By Nerma Jelacic and Emir Suljagic (Balkan Insight, 4 May 06)

A former commander of a special police unit from Republika Srpska, RS, which took part in the Srebrenica massacre in July 1995, is still employed at the RS interior ministry, BIRN's Justice Report can reveal.

During the 1992-5 war, Dusko Jevic, alias Stalin, was an officer in the special police brigade of the RS interior ministry, RS MUP. He was assistant commander for operational and educational tasks and also commanded a police training centre in Jahorina, close to Sarajevo.

While Jevic does not dispute his presence in Srebrenica in the immediate aftermath of the enclave's fall, he has repeatedly denied that his, or any other, troops present in the UN compound of Potocari in the town's vicinity took part in the separation of men from women.

What is more, Jevic insists that no separation of the civilian population took place in Potocari at all and that both men and women gathered in the compound were given safe passage to territory controlled by the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ABiH. He is also adamant that the civilians were not treated inhumanely in July 1995 in Srebrenica.

But evidence presented so far in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, and facts established by the RS government's Commission for Srebrenica suggest not only that Jevic knew about the separations and inhumane treatment of civilians, but that he and his troops played an active part in this.

The UN protected enclave of Srebrenica fell into the hands of RS forces headed by the Hague indictee general Ratko Mladic, on July 11, 1995.

It is estimated that some 40,000 people from Srebrenica and surrounding, ethnically cleansed towns and villages were present in the enclave at its fall. As the RS troops marched into town about half of the population fled to the nearby UN military compound under the command of the Dutch battalion. The other half fled into the woods and tried to get through to ABiH territory on foot.

In the week that followed, almost 8,000 Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, were summarily executed at various locations in the vicinity of Srebrenica and the nearby towns of Bratunac and Zvornik.

The majority of them were hunted down by RS troops strategically placed on forest roads near the village of Konjevic Polje between Srebrenica and Bratunac. But many were also picked out of the crowd, which huddled in the UN base in Potocari.

Jevic's unit played an active role in the deportation of civilians from Srebrenica to Kladanj, and in the separation of men and boys from their families in Potocari. For the majority of his time in Srebrenica, Jevic spent in Potocari himself.

Some of the troops under his command were also stationed on the Konjevic Polje road together with other military and police units tasked with catching the escaping Bosniaks. Jevic visited his troops there on at least one occasion.

As the commander of police units which took an active part in the separation and deportation of civilians, Jevic is indictable for war crimes against humanity. But Justice Report has found that no investigation has been mounted against him either by the ICTY or local courts.

However, Jevic made an appearance at the Hague tribunal in October 2003. He was a prosecution witness in the trial of Vidoje Balgojevic and Dragan Jokic, two Bosnian Serb officers accused of crimes against humanity and violation of the laws and customs of war at Srebrenica.

In court, he said that the role of his unit was to "secure UNPROFOR and the people who were gathered" in Potocari.

"Our task was to evacuate the people there who were alleged civilians."

He said that on July 12, three of the four platoons in his unit went with him to Potocari.

Later, he received an order to send two of those three platoons to secure the road from Kravice to Sandici. In the hills nearby, Bosniaks were trying to get through to territory controlled by the ABiH.

Jevic told the court he stayed with his remaining men in Potocari.

"During the evacuation, I was exactly in front of UNPROFOR's base, where there was enough room for the buses and trucks to turn around," Jevic said at the trial.

"For me personally it was important for this to finish as soon as possible because it is not nice watching masses of people in such a situation. Because, it was hot.

"As the buses came, the people were let through. Men, women and children got onto the buses, which turned round in front of the UNPROFOR base and left."

At the trial, Jevic denied seeing or taking part in any acts of torture or in the enforced separation of adults.

In January 2005, Blagojevic and Jokic were sentenced to 18 and 9 years inprisonment respectively for the crimes committed in Srebrenica.

The two were at first indicted jointly with Momir Nikolic, security officer for the Bratunac brigade of the RS army, and Dragan Obrenovic, chief of staff of the Zvornik brigade, but they pleaded guilty to charges and agreed to testify against their former colleagues at the trial.

In April 2005, Jevic's immediate commander, Ljubisa Borovcanin, was transferred to the Hague on war crimes charges for Srebrenica.

As stated in the trial of Blagojevic and Jokic, the ICTY prosecution believes that the special forces of RS MUP "commanded by Ljubisa Borovcanin and his deputy Dusko Jevic" played a key role in the aftermath of the fall of Srebrenica.

The activities of Jevic's unit were revealed at the trial of Blagojevic and Jokic and in the signed confession and subsequent witness testimony of Nikolic.

It has been established by ICTY that two separate special police units were involved in the fall of Srebrenica and its aftermath.

The first was the special police force, which existed in every municipality and was normally commanded by the head of the local centre for public security.

The second was the special police brigade, which consisted of professional police, equipped with army technology, which was used in military operations.

It was formed on July 10, 1995, on order of the RS minister of interior, Tomislav Kovac. This unit included the Second Special Detachment, the First Detachment of Special Police from Zvornik, the Mixed Detachment of joint forces of MUP, Serbia and Republika Srpska (Special police forces brigade) and a detachment from the police training camp in Jahorina, which Jevic commanded.

Colonel Ljubomir Borovcanin was appointed commander of this unit and sent to Bratunac. As Jevic told the ICTY in 2003, Borovcanin ordered him to bring his unit to Bratunac on July 11 by 3pm. By noon, Jevic had already arrived with around 100 members of his unit. By then, however, the fighting around Srebrenica was almost over.

The deportation of civilians was supposed to start the next day. As Jevic testified in the Hague most of his unit was deployed on the road between Bratunac and Konjevic Polje, where the RS military were searching for Bosniaks who were trying to flee the enclave on foot for BiH government territory.

The rest, numbering around 30, remained in Potocari, from where women and children were deported in the next two days. Jevic spent majority of his time in Potocari.

During that time, men were separated from women and children and after a short detention, taken in the direction of Bratunac, where they were executed, as were all those caught trying to escape through the forests.

According to the confession of Momir Nikolic, on the morning of July 12 he had received instructions to help "coordinate and organize" the deportation of the women and children and the separation of the men of fighting age from the rest.When he asked about their fate, he said, he was told they would all be killed.

"On July 12, I spent most of the day in Potocari coordinating and working with Dusko Jevic, commander of MUP special forces," Nikolic told ICTY.

Jevic told ICTY he had nothing to do with this. "Momir Nikolic claimed that I coordinated the separation of people in Potocari, together with him. I am stating under all responsibility that I did not," Jevic said.

Under cross-examination, he continued to deny any knowledge of the atrocities and even separations of the civilians in Potocari where he was present.

"Did you see that the men were separated from their families in Potocari on July 12?" the ICTY prosecutor asked him.

"I did not," Jevic said.

"Did you ever see that any of the Muslims were kicked, hit or pushed onto the bus?"


"Did you receive reports on physical abuse of Muslims on July 12?"


"Why are you smiling?"

"Well, you know, it has been eight years since those events and one is trying to remember every detail, but you can't. I personally know that I did one normal, useful thing," Jevic responded.

Jevic repeated this assertion to Justice Report, saying he had carried out his duty in Srebrenica "ethically and professionally".

Jevic also told Justice Report he would not discuss his testimony in the Hague in detail but reiterated that no crimes were committed in Potocari. "I completed my job there in a fair and humane manner," he said.

But evidence suggests otherwise. The last act in the Srebrenica tragedy began on a hot July 12 afternoon in 1995 around the Dutch UN base at Potocari.

One day after the enclave had fallen into Serb hands, a group of Serb officers approached the red and white plastic band that the Dutch soldiers erected as a symbolic barrier between the enclave's Serb conquerors and the thousands of defenceless and terrified civilians.

General Ratko Mladic, the RS army commander, was in the centre of the group, surrounded by his bodyguards and other officers.

"Thirty buses will come and we will transfer you towards Kladanj, from where you will go to the territory controlled by [Bosnian president] Alija's [Izetebgovic's] forces," he assured the crowd.

"Don't panic and let the small children and women go. Make sure somebody doesn't lose a child," he added. "Don't be afraid, nobody will do anything to you."

This entire scene, captured on video by a Serbian journalist which the ICTY has accepted as evidence, showed another man, identified as Jevic, standing next to Mladic. Dressed in camouflage, he has grey hair and a thick long moustache.

The role of the troops commanded by Jevic has also been detailed in the RS government's Commission for Srebrenica. The commission also concluded, and the RS government accepted, that separation of men and women did take place
right in the military base in Potocari.

The report states that special forces of the RS MUP entered Potocari between 6 and 7am on July 12, 1995.

The report mentions a detachment of special police from Jahorina led by Jevic, which was one of the MUP units tasked with "maintaining order", finding and separating "militarily capable" men from the rest in accordance with an oral order issued by General Mladic in the Hotel Fontana in Bratunac
on July 11.

The report said the separation of the sexes "led to a traumatic situation due to the presence of the mentioned units, their action and behaviour, as well as the presence of strong forces" around the Potocari base.

Taking the witness stand, Nikolic also said that Jevic's troops took part in separations. "When the first buses arrived, or a little before that, I contacted Jevic. I told him that the evacuation should be completed and what his role is regarding the buses, organization of buses and other issues regarding the transportation of civilian population," he said.

"Then I showed the units that separated the men from the others the house in which they [the men] will be temporarily detained."

After the men were separated in Potocari, the RS commission found, they were detained in a nearby zinc factory and in a building known as the White House.

That the fate of the separated men in the White House and the zinc factory was already known was also accepted as a fact in the judgment delivered against Jokic and Blagojevic in the Hague.

"Muslim men were ordered to leave their passports and ID cards in front of the White House," it said. "The explanation given by one of the present members of MUP, a captain with a nickname 'Mane', who was under the command of Dusko 'Stalin' Jevic, commander of the training centre of the special
police force brigade in Jahorina, was that the men will not need passports and ID cards any more."

Jevic denied this. "I saw those men climb onto the buses and the trucks. They were supposed to be evacuated to Kladanj," he said at the ICTY. "I don't know where on the road they were separated. I couldn't have known that."

The RS government's Srebrenica report said conditions deteriorated in Potocari on July 12 "after the entrance of the mentioned police and Army of RS units...because of the terror, insults and abuse during the separation of 'militarily able' men and sporadic murders behind the zinc factory and behind the White House'." It went on, "It is a painful fact that among them there were many men who were not military capable and minors."

The situation became worse during the night from July 12 to 13, the report added. "The soldiers separated and took people from the crowd. Screams were heard, begging, yelling and similar. During the night and early next morning stories were spread about rapes and murders... a few civilians committed suicide by hanging themselves," the report stated.

An article written by the Serbian journalist Zoran Petrovic-Pirocanac, who was present at the scene, published in the Belgrade magazine Interview on August 4, 1995, adds weight to the claims that Jevic knew and was involved in the deportation and separation of Bosniaks.

Although Pirocanac's article glowed with positive remarks about the conduct of Serb soldiers in Srebrenica, the story has been included in evidence in the ICTY as proof of the abhorrent conditions in the town following its all.

Having spent a lot of his time after the fall of Srebrenica with Jevic, the author describes him as "pillar of Serbian new look police".

He writes about the difficult task facing Jevic, the task of seeking "Muslim war criminals... hiding in this crowd of people, among the dust, dirty bundles, crying children".

Survivors of Srebrenica also recall dramatic separations of men and boys from women in Potocari.

Sabaheta Fejzic last saw her 18-year-old son, Rijad, at around 11am on the morning of July 13, as they headed together towards the line of trucks and buses assembled in Potocari for Kladanj. The Serbs, in uniforms and armed, ordered her to separate from her son, which she at first ignored.

"When they saw we were still together, they started yelling, 'Did you hear what we said to you: the child goes to the right, you go to the left!' I said that I am going wherever my child is going. If he is going to the right, so am I," Fejzic told Justice Report.

"Since I held my son by the arm, they started grabbing him, I pulled him to me, they pulled him to themselves. While the pulling was taking place, I begged them, 'Please don't take my child, he's the only one I have'.

"I couldn't fight any more, they were much stronger than me. They pulled the child from me and took him. He was very scared, so he started crying, and when they took him, he turned around and tears flowed from his eyes; he was just able to say to me, 'Go, mum, please.' After that I kneeled down, put my hands together and said, 'Please kill me'."

Fejzic, who is still looking for Rijad's remains, said such scenes were common in Potocari on July 12 and 13 when majority of men and boys were taken away.

Although evidence uncovered during trials of suspects for the Srebrenica crimes before the ICTY suggests Jevic was one of the key figures in the Srebrenica operation, it has not stopped him from becoming inspector in charge of security in the RS MUP, a post he has held since the end of the war.

Jevic refused to elaborate on these claims for Justice Report. "I will most probably go again to testify at the Hague. Then we will see if more explanations are necessary," he said. "My soul is clean."

But Jevic is only one of several thousand RS army and police officers who participated in the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995.

Last October, the RS government's own Commission for Srebrenica identified 19,473 persons as possible participants in the operations in Srebrenica.

According to some estimates of the commission about 900 still hold official posts in the RS government, army and police.

Although the RS government has promised to investigate the role played by its public employees in the massacre, as yet not one has been sacked or disciplined in connection with these events.

Nerma Jelacic is director of BIRN Bosnia and Herzegovina. Emir Suljagic is a BIRN contributor based in Sarajevo. Justice Report is an internet publication of BIRN BiH. To read more or subscribe please visit .

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