At the trial of Zemir Kovacevic, a witness for the Bosnian State Prosecution said that he saw burnt houses and dead bodies in Sijekovac, northern Bosnia, in March 1992.
Nedeljko Duronjic said that on March 26, 1992, he set off with his wife Ljuba from Bosanski Brod to Sijekovac, to see his mother-in-law and daughter, when he was stopped at an intersection by the defendant Kovacevic.
“He asked me where I was going and I replied to see my mother-in-law. Then he wanted to know whether I was going to stay the night and I said I wouldn’t. He only told me: ‘Better don’t. Go back home,’ and he let me pass,” said the witness.
A day or two after this, Duronjic heard that there was a “slaughter in Sijekovac“, so he and his wife set off to pick up their daughter. The witness said that at the entrance to Sijekovac he was stopped by unknown soldiers who told him to go to the “headquarters in the post office.”
“There were soldiers there too. One of them told me I had 15 minutes to go in and out. I entered her street in a car and saw Sreto dead. On the left there was a burnt car and two bodies. The body of Petar Zecevic in blue working coveralls was a little bit further. I found my mother-in-law who was moaning, but not the daughter and we went back to Brod,“ said the witness.
Duronjic added that upon returning home he was arrested and sent to a camp and that he saw his daughter only six months later, when she told him a man took her to Serbia and saved her.
Zemir Kovacevic, a former Croatian Defence Council, HVO, soldier is charged with committing crimes against Serb civilians in the village of Sijekovac in March 1992. This is one of the first war crimes in the Bosnian war.
The indictment specifies that Kovacevic took part in the attack on the village of Sijekovac, where, together with others, he took 15 Serb adults and four children out of their houses and into yards, some of whom were killed.
During the cross-examination, the defence showed the witness a statement he gave to the prosecution in January this year in which he said that he went to see his mother-in-law in Sijekovac on March 3, 1992, and that he saw the defendant on that day in civilian clothing, and not in a uniform as he said during his testimony.
Asked whether he went to Sijekovac on March 3 or 26, 1992, and whether the defendant wore uniform or civilian clothing, the witness replied he was not sure.
After the witness was examined, Kovacevic apologized to the Trial Chamber for inappropriate behaviour at the last hearing for which he was removed from the courtroom. Kovacevic explained that he had “lost his temper”.
The trial will resume on Wednesday, October 24.