THE HAGUE | 15.12.2010.

SHIFTING THE BLAME ON A FAMILY CLAN IN THE ‘SCORPIONS’

Jovica Stanisic’s defense is trying to prove that a clan of relatives and friends around the Scorpions unit commander Slobodan Medic was responsible for the murder of Muslim civilians in Trnovo. The rest of the unit, the defense contends, was away from the crime scene. The witness agreed in part, but remained adamant that the Serbian state security service controlled

Jovica Stanisic’s defense is trying to prove that only a small part of the Scorpions unit who congregated around its commander, Slobodan Medic Boca, was responsible for the execution of six Muslim youths and boys in Trnovo in July 1995. The murder is listed in the indictment charging former Serbian state security service chiefs Stanisic and Simatovic with the crimes of the Serbian police and paramilitaries in BH and Croatia.

Goran Stoparic testified at the Seselj trial in January 2008 about his war record, from a Serbian Radical Party volunteer to a Scorpion member. Today, Stoparic repeated what he said at the trial of the Scorpions in Belgrade in 2006: that commander Boca ordered the murder of civilians in Trnovo and that the men were killed by Pera Petrasevic, Branislav and Aleksandar Medic, Milorad Momic and a soldier with a nickname Bodo, whose name Stoparic could not recall. All were members of the Scorpions. Stoparic says he was a few hundred meters away from the crime scene.

Defense counsel Jordash put it to the witness that the perpetrators of the crime were not part of the regular chain of command in the Scorpions: they had friendship and family ties. Stoparic agreed in part, explaining that they were all Slobodan Medic’s bodyguards and only Medic issued orders to them. The witness agreed with the defense counsel that when the crime in Trnovo was committed, other members of the Scorpions were far from the crime scene. Some were at the front line two kilometers away and others were in their base, some four to five kilometers away from the scene.

At the same time, the defense is trying to deny any links between the Scorpions and the Serbian state security service. The defense counsel noted that in his two previous testimonies the witness said the army and the police supplied the weapons to the Djeletovci base, but did not mention the state security service explicitly. Stoparic answered that the service was part of the police.

Asked who Slobodan Medic reported to, Stoparic said he was ‘absolutely sure’ that Medic reported directly to Milan Milanovic Mrgud. It was Milanovic who put Medic’s name forward for the commander of the Scorpions at a meeting in Novi Sad when it was agreed to establish the unit. Mrgud and the head of the Serbian Oil Company Zivko Sokolovacki met and decided to set up a unit that would secure oil fields in Djeletovci in Croatia for Serbia’s use, the witness recounted. Stoparic claims the Scorpions reported to the Serbian state security service for that task. They also received their orders from the RSK army for tasks that had to do with securing the 40 kilometers of the front line.

Describing the role of Milan Milanovic, the witness said he conveyed instructions from Belgrade to the Scorpions. In Belgrade, Milanovic met with Radovan Stojicic Badza and other Serbian MUP officials. When the defense lawyer put it to the witness that Mrgud never told him that he met with Stanisic, Stoparic replied he didn’t say that to him, but may have told Slobodan Medic.

Defense counsel Jordash will complete Stoparic’s cross-examination tomorrow. Stoparic will then be examined by Simatovic’s defense lawyer Mihajlo Bakrac.