News 08 Nov 07

Srebrenica Trial Opens in Bosnia

Sarajevo _ A former Bosnian Serb officer has gone on trial before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina for genocide committed against Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995.

Milorad Trbic, who was assistant commander for security of the Zvornik Brigade of the Bosnian Serbs’ army, VRS, is accused of having participated in the murders of over 7,000 Bosniak (Muslim) men after the UN enclave fell to Serbian forces in July 1995.

Trbic’s trial is the second case involving genocide in the UN-designated “safe area” of Srebrenica to have come before the war crimes chamber of the Court of Bosnia.

In his introductory remarks on Thursday, international prosecutor Kwai Hong Ip referred to the suffering of civilians in that city as "a tragedy known in the whole world as the Srebrenica tragedy".

"We are here to prove one man's role in that tragedy," the prosecutor said, adding that the prosecution's evidence would be divided into three main groups.

"The first group will contain the indictee's statements in which he admitted to have personally committed at least 55 murders in the period from July 13 to July 18, 1995”, Kwai Hong Ip said.

“We shall then also present testimonies of people who saw Trbic at the two detention and execution locations, as well as some documents written at the time when the indictee was the officer on duty in the Bratunac Brigade Headquarters on July 16, 1995", he explained.

According to Kwai Hong Ip, the prosecution intends to prove that "the indictee knew that a systematic execution of men was underway", and carried out his tasks in order to ensure that the executions were performed in a more efficient way.

The prosecutor said he intended to complete the presentation of evidence by February next year.

The first witnesses are due to testify on November 27.

Trbic's defence lawyer, Milan Trbojevic, did not make any introductory remarks.

Trbic was originally charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, together with seven military and police officers from the Bosnian Serb Republic, RS, who are currently on trial in The Hague.

His case was referred by the Tribunal to the Court of Bosnia in June 2007.

Another trial for genocide committed in Srebrenica, involving 11 former members of the RS Special Police Forces and the VRS is underway before the Court.

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