At the trial of the former Bosnian Serb army chief, Ratko Mladic, two prosecutions witnesses spoke about murders of Bosniaks in the region of Prijedor in 1992.
Osman Selak, former commander of the rear base of the Army of Republika Srpska, VRS, in Banja Luka said that in the summer of 1992 the commander of the First Krajina Corps, Momir Talic, was informed that 800 Bosniaks had been killed in the attack on the village Kozarac near Prijedor, and that, on Talic’s orders, this was falsely entered into a report as 80 victims.
“Marcetic told Talic: ‘Comrade General, today in Kozarac 800 people were killed and 1,200 captured.’ Talic reflexively looked at me, knowing that I was a Bosniak and that the murdered people were Muslims."
"He then turned to Marcetic and told him: ‘Dragan, you meant to say 80 people were killed and that is what you will tell the main headquarters.’ And that information was passed on to the headquarters,” said Selak.
After that Selak said that he put in a request for retirement, aware that as a Bosniak he could not remain in the Bosnian Serb army. He served until July 1992 when his requested was granted.
According to the witness, Talic was “not in favour of the war”, but he “carried out orders”.
“He knew that international law had been violated and that is why he issued an order that the main headquarters was to be informed that 80 people were killed. He was afraid he would be held responsible for those murders,” said Selak.
According to Selak, the perpetrators of the murders in Kozarac were members of the motorised brigade of VRS from Prijedor, whom Talic “failed to punish”.
Talic was charged by the Hague court for war crimes committed in Bosanska Krajina, but he died in 2003, before the trial was over.
Mladic, former commander of the Army of Republika Srpska, is charged with the expulsion of Bosniak and Croat civilians across Bosnia and Herzegovina, which, according to the indictment, in seven Bosnian municipalities, including Prijedor, reached a level of genocide. He is also charged with genocide in Srebrenica, terrorizing Sarajevo citizens, and taking international soldiers as hostages between 1992 and 1995.
Prior to Selak, the Hague tribunal also heard from a former intelligence and security officer with the Bosnian Serb army, VRS who said that 24 Bosniaks suffocated in trucks, which transported hundreds of captives from Sanski Most to the Manjaca detention camp in July 1992.
The prosecution witness, who testified under the pseudonym of RM-051, said that their death was caused by “unprofessional” and “inhumane” treatment by Serb policemen, who escorted them.
When shown the photographs of scared and weak prisoners, some of whom were bone skinny, lying on the hangar floor or standing behind barbed wire, the witness RM-051 said that they “realistically depicted how the detention camp looked like”, pointing out that he “has nothing to add or deduct”.
The trial is due to continue on Wednesday, September 25.
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.