“We killed people in groups of 10… The prisoners who came out from the first two buses had their hands tied. It took one hour to kill all the people from one bus. The 10th detachment, I believe, killed on that day (13 July 1995) about 300 people”.
By Nidzara Ahmetasevic in Sarajevo
This is part of the testimony of Franc Kos, former member of the 10th Sabotage Detachment of the Main Staff of the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) last week to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. He is on trial together with three more former members of the same detachment, for killings of Bosnian Muslims at Branjevo Military Farm near Srebrenica. They are indicted for taking part in the killing of more than 800 people at the Farm in July 1995, after Srebrenica was occupied by the VRS, led by General Ratko Mladic, currently awaiting trial at the ICTY.
Kos was, according to the indictment in Sarajevo, commander of the first brigade of the detachment. A detailed dossier on the role of the detachment was published by the Belgrade Humanitarian Law Centre earlier this year. The Centre decided to publish the dossier after they waited for six months for the War Crimes Prosecution to act upon the criminal complaint they filed against some of the members of the detachment who are now living freely in Serbia. But Dusan Jovanovic at the Centre said they still have no information as to whether the Prosecution has done anything in relation to this complaint.
The Centre claims that most of the tasks given to this detachment were secret, and that most of the written documents about them and their activities are still missing, while huge numbers of orders were given only verbally. According to available information, the unit was composed of 50 to 60 men, including some Croats, Slovenians and Bosnian Muslims. All the members had a two-year professional engagement contract. Some of them, like Kos who is Slovenian by origin, left the unit at some point but were called back after the war by, claims the Centre, former commander Milorad Pelemis - and offered the possibility of military engagement abroad. Kos spent three months as a soldier in Zaire.
According to this report, but also facts established by the ICTY, members of the unit who took part in killings after Srebrenica were promoted in October 1995 to higher ranks within their units. The Centre claims that only two persons from this detachment until today were sentenced for the crimes they committed in Srebrenica. One was Drazen Erdemovic, who was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the ICTY after admitting his guilt and who today lives in one of the Scandinavian countries under a false identity. The other one was Marko Boskic who was sentenced by the State Court in Bosnia to 10 years for his role in Srebrenica genocide.
Five of them, including Kos, are currently on trial in Sarajevo, while one, Aleksandar Cvitanovic, is in Israel awaiting extradition to Bosnia. However, many of them, including some of the commanders and some of the executioners, are alive and living in Serbia, the Centre claims. It gives a list of names including Petar Salapura, Milorad Pelemiš, Dragomir Pećanac, Radoslav Kremenović, Brano Gojković, and Zoran Obrenović - a.k.a. Maljić, claiming that they are within the reach of the Belgrade authorities.
In the meantime, the ICTY initiated a case against Dragomir Pecanac for contempt of the court, since he refused to testify in the case of Zdravko Tolimir, currently on trial for crimes in Srebrenica.
Shot in the back
Though it is hard to find written documents about this detachment and orders issued to them, it is possible to find survivors of the mass killings they committed in Bosnia. One of them, protected witness 117, is a survivor of the killing in Branjevo. He/she spoke to the ICTY during one of the trials for genocide in Srebrenica.
“I was shot in the back. My hands were tied. The bullet went under my left armpit, through my shirt and it just grazed me. I continued to lie still. I could hear them ask if anyone was alive so that they could dress their wounds, and those who answered them were immediately finished off. I heard one man who was moaning and begging them to kill him but they told him they would let him suffer for a while and that they would kill him later,” the protected witness said.