THE HAGUE | 30.03.2015.

PELEMIS WILLING TO COME TO SARAJEVO BUT…

The BH public prosecutor's office has issued an international arrest warrant for Ratko Mladic’s defense witness Milorad Pelemis. The witness claims that he is willing to come to Sarajevo and prove he is not guilty…but he would first like to consult his lawyers to see ‘what should be done in legal terms’. He is ‘afraid of false witnesses and false statements'

The prosecutor continued his cross-examination of Milorad Pelemis, confronting Mladics witness with the figures for the number of victims of the execution at Branjevo farm and the culture hall in Pilica. The prisoners from Srebrenica were executed there en masse on 16 July 1995. In the examination-in-chief, Pelemis claimed he was absent from his unit because of an injury from 12 to 16 July 1995 and that he didnt issue the order for the execution. However, the witness didntdeny that the crime had been committed and that the members of his unit had executed the prisoners in Branjevo. Pelemis insisted that only about 200 prisoners were executed in that incident, contradicting the evidence of Drazen Erdemovic who said that1,000 to 1,200 prisoners were killed at the farm. Erdemovic, a member of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, quoted the figure in his plea agreement, when he pleaded guilty to his involvement in the crime.

Prosecutor Peter McCloskey invoked a report by Dusan Janc, an OTP investigator, written after the exhumation and identification of victims from primary and secondary mass graves. The primary mass grave was in the Branjevo farm; the bodies from Branjevo and Pilica were later transferred to secondary graves. The total number of victims from those two locations stands at 1,771. According to Erdemovic, 500 victims were killed in the culture hall in Pilica and the remaining 1,200 prisoners were executed in Branjevo. Erdemovic was rather specific in his estimate of the number of victims, the prosecutor noted.

Confronted with the figures, Pelemis replied that if statistics show it, the number must be correct. However, Pelemis doubted that only sixmembers of his unit, one of whom was Erdemovic, were really able to kill all those people. He did confirm that based on the subsequent statements made by the members of his unit he learned that some troops from the VRS Bratunac Brigade helpedthem to do the job.

The witness complained that some people from Vlasenicawanted to shift the blame for the crimes that resulted in a mass grave found near his village, also called Pelemis, on him. This prompted Judge Orie to ask for the names of those men. Pelemis at first refused to name them, but when the judge insisted, he mentioned a man by the name of Kraljevic from Vlasenica. The witness explained that he wasnot sure about the others.

Pelemis repeated several times that he was willing to comply with the summons issued by a Sarajevo court and that he waswilling to prove my innocence. Once again, Judge Orie was prompted to ask the witness why he had not done so yet. The witness explained that he wanted to consult his lawyers to see what I should do about it in legal terms. As Pelemis clarified, he was afraid of false witnesses and false statementsand that was the only reason he hasnt yet gone to Sarajevo.

The BH public prosecutor's office sees Pelemis as a war crime suspect and has issued an international arrest warrant, we have learned. Pelemis probably came to The Hague under a safe conduct guarantee.

The trial continues tomorrow with the evidence of a new defense witness.