The trial of the Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic resumed after a two-week recess with a testimony about the execution of Croat civilians near Sanski Most in the autumn of 1992.
The witness, Grgo Stojic, said that he and five other people form the village of Skrljevita near Sanski Most were robbed and beaten and lined up in front of a firing squad on November 1992, in a nearby forest.
“When they lined us up and searched us, they told us they were ‘Seselj’s men’,” specified Stojic, who was 24 at the time.
According to Stojic, the firing squad consisted of four men who were led by Danilusko Kajtez. Kajtez, who subsequently changed his name to Nikola Kovacevic, was sentenced by the Bosnian State Court in 2007 to 12 years of prison for crimes in Sanski Most committed in 1992.
The witness said that they were shot in the back from a machine gun. Stojic explained that he was hit in the left arm and fell down, and then he was hit in the hip.
After the perpetrators left, Stojic fled. He said that he was given the first aid in Sanski Most, and then transported to a hospital in Banja Luka, Republika Srpska, where he was operated on.
Several days later, Stojic was put into a make-shift cell inside the hospital, where he and other non-Serb patients were beaten.
“They beat us on our wounds, with rifle butts, crutches and feet... whoever wanted, both soldiers and civilians,” said the witness.
In December 1992, Stojic was released and sent to Croatia. After several surgeries, he is considered to have a 70 per cent disability.
Mladic, the former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, is charged with the expulsion of Bosniaks and Croats from seven municipalities across Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Sanski Most.
He is also charged with the genocide in Srebrenica, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens with a campaign of shelling and sniping and taking international soldiers as hostages.
During the cross examination, Mladic’s defence lawyer, Dejan Ivetic, claimed that Kajtez was not a member of the Bosnian Serb army but a “common criminal” who committed the crime for “personal gain”.
“I cannot agree with that, because a criminal is also trying to commit crimes covertly,” replied the witness, confirming, however, that Kajtez wore civilian clothing.
The defence lawyer specified that that two of the three Kajtez’s accomplices were underage, one of them age 15 at the time of the crime, and as such they were too young to belong to an army.
The witness confirmed that in 2007, at the trial of Kajtez and another accomplice before the Banja Luka court, he could not identify them and that they were subsequently released.
Monday’s morning session started in Mladic’s absence who, according to the presiding judge Alphons Orie, declined to leave the detention unit in Scheveningen until he finished his breakfast. Mladic appeared in the courtroom an hour later.
The trial will resume on Tuesday, October 30.
In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.
Key dates and events in the Bosnia war.
The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.