THE HAGUE | 27.05.2010.

WHAT IS NORMAL IN WAR

‘It’s war, things like that happen’: this was Stojan Zupljanin’s response to reports he received from former inspector in the Republika Srpska state security service who is now testifying at the trial of Zupljanin and Mico Stanisic

Predrag Radulovic a/k/a Pile, former inspector of the state security service in the Banja Luka Security Services Center, completed his examination-in chief at the trial of Bosnian Serb police officials Mico Stanisic and Stojan Zupljanin. In 1992, Radulovic was a member of the intelligence group Milos and he reported on the developments in the Banja Luka area.

Having described yesterday the ‘unbearable conditions’ in the prison camps in Omarska and Keraterm in July 1992, Radulovic today said that he told Zupljanin about that. At the time, Zupljanin was chief of the Security Services Center in Banja Luka. Zupljanin was ‘surprised and acted as if he didn’t believe it’, the witness noted. ‘Radule, it’s war, things like that happen’, Zupljanin said. According to the witness, Zupljanin often said it.

After the Milos group filed its report, a commission was established and visited prison camps. Radoslav Brdjanin and Stojan Zupljanin were among the members of the commission. Simo Drljaca and Vojin Bera from the Banja Luka Security Services Center reported to them about the situation in the prison camps. The findings of the commission differed from the conclusions of the Milos group. The witness said it didn’t surprise him, if ‘you know who fed them information’.

One of the reports shown in the courtroom was drafted immediately before the massacre at the Koricanske Stijene. The report says that members of the active and reserve police executed 208 civilians from Prijedor there. Despite the report and the order of the interior minister Mico Stanisic to prosecute the perpetrators, no proceedings - disciplinary or criminal - were instituted. The explanation was that the perpetrators were on the front and were not available for questioning.

Radulovic also spoke about the operations of the Banja Luka detachment of the special police in Kotor Varos. According to the operative intelligence, Muslims and Croats were detained, abused and even killed in the sawmill, where the unit’s HQ was located. Girls and women were raped there. The indictment lists the sawmill as a prison facility. Non-Serbs from Kotor Varos were forced to pay large sums if they wanted to leave the town, the witness claimed. Those who couldn’t pay remained and faced mistreatment.

In late June 1992, Radulovic headed the team of the Banja Luka police that arrested members of the Mico group after they committed many crimes in Teslic. The group comprised both active and reserve police officers, local criminals and some soldiers. The Doboj police sent them to Teslic at the behest of the town leadership. The town leaders had asked for help in ‘raising the awareness’ of the peace-loving residents of Teslic; they wanted the residents to ‘realize it was wartime, not peacetime and to act accordingly’.

After the arrest of the Mico group, the witness was provisionally appointed police chief in Teslic, and he proceeded to disband all prison centers in which there where more than 1,000 civilians. The letters the witness sent to Zupljanin asking for help in the effort to exhume the victims and investigate 58 murders perpetrated by the Mico group were admitted into evidence. Zupljanin’s response to the letters was, ‘the time is not ripe for that’.