A Defence witness claims that Nevesinje residents stayed in the police station “for their own safety”.
Jovan Cokorilo, a former member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska, MUP RS, said that men from Nevesinje were captured in order to be examined “about the safety situation”, adding that Bosniak civilians “stayed” in the Public Safety Station, PSS, for their own safety.
“The situation was similar in all other municipalities in eastern Herzegovina. Public Safety Stations were by far the safest places,” said Cokorilo, former chief of the Crime Suppression Section with the Safety Services Center, SSC, in Trebinje.
Cokorilo was testifying as a witness for the Defence in the trial of Krsto Savic. The Prosecution charges Savic, as former chief of the SSC in Trebinje, with having controlled the Public Safety Stations in Kalinovik, Nevesinje, Gacko and Bileca.
It says he “planned, ordered and committed” the persecution of Bosniak and Croat civilians in those municipalities in 1992.
The indictment alleges that Bosniak residents in those municipalities were detained in various buildings, including police stations. The same indictment charges Milko Mucibabic, a policeman from Nevesinje, with crimes committed in that town.
“I remember some civilians being detained in the police station in Nevesinje. We spoke to them and then we released them. I think they were captured by military or paramilitary formations,” the witness said, adding that he did not know that Bosniaks were detained in the police station basement.
He said he “knew” about detainees in Alatnica tool factory, but he did not know any further details. Cokorilo told the Court that people were saying that Redzo Trebovic, whose murder is charged upon Savic, “was killed when Center Chief Krsto Savic used firearms”, adding that a report on this incident “was sent to the Ministry of Interior”.
“I discussed this with Savic. He said it was an accident,” Cokorilo said.
The Trial Chamber allowed the Prosecution to examine this witness directly. He will not be invited to testify again in the course of additional presentation of evidence.
In the course of the examination Prosecutor Munib Halilovic showed the witness a copy of a notebook containing notes from police committee meetings, whose author is not known to the Prosecution. Reading the notes from the notebook, Halilovic said that one of the tasks mentioned at the meeting held in July 1992 was to “arrest all military capable Muslim and Croat men from eastern Herzegovina”.
However the witness said that he did not know anything about this. Due to the fact that the Prosecutor started direct examination right after the cross-examination, without giving any prior notice, and the Defence interrupted the examination, Trial Chamber Chairwoman Minka Kreho warned the parties that they would be fined should this happen again.
“The Prosecutor, who represents the State, does not respect the examination rules. You have tried to make a mess of all this, following the old law. However, you will be fined next time you try to do that,” Kreho said.
The trial is due to continue on January 28, when court expert Mile Matijevic will testify.