THE HAGUE | 15.09.2009.

WITNESS: NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE VRS AND THE VJ

At the trial of Momcilo Perisic, a prosecution witness testifying under the pseudonym MP 11 stated that ‘it was completely normal for the VJ to support the VRS’ since there was ‘no difference between the two armies’.’It is all the same’, said the witness who fought in the Sarajevo battlefield in 1993 as a member of the VJ 72nd Special Brigade

The trial of General Momcilo Perisic continued today with the evidence of MP 11. The witness testified with full protective measures, including image and voice distortion. In 1993, the witness joined the 72nd Special Brigade, which was part of the VJ Special Unit Corps. The decisions about the use of the unit were reached at the very top of the VJ General Staff.

As an elite VJ unit, the brigade was used several times outside of the FRY borders. First, as the witness recounted, in February 1993, after an order came for the unit to ‘go to Srebrenica and engage the terrorists and Mujahideen who had massacred Serb civilians in that area’. As Perisic was appointed chief of the General Staff in August 1993 the prosecution didn’t pursue the issue. The departure for Srebrenica was discussed once more in the spring of 1994 but the unit members ‘refused to go there politely’. The witness confirmed that General Perisic and other officers in the General Staff talked to the members of the 72nd Brigade stressing the strategic importance of the offensive against Srebrenica.

On the orders of General Perisic, in late 1993 the brigade was sent to the Sarajevo area. The witness learned about Operation Pancir 2 just before he left, because it was ‘secret’. The operation is listed by that name in the indictment against General Perisic. Their task was to take Mount Zuc together with the Sarajevo-Romanija Corps troops in order to establish ‘communications with the other side’. The operation fell through and the brigade suffered substantial losses.

Although he left the 72nd Brigade in 1995, the witness remained in contact with his former fellow fighters. He claims they told him they had been deployed in Srebrenica in 1995 to provide support to the VRS; their task was to ‘clean up the stronghold of Mujahideen and terrorists who were causing problems to Serb villages’. The witness thinks that the decision to go to Srebrenica was reached at the highest level as the ‘unit couldn’t go anywhere without the permission of the General Staff’.

The personnel members of the VJ received substantial sums of money for their participation in the operations in BH, the witness said, confirming that in BH they always wore the VRS insignia and were described as the VRS troops in communications. The 72nd Brigade provided training for the VRS special units, mainly on the use of weapons and combat tactics, the witness said. According to MP 11, there ‘was no difference between the VRS and the VJ and it was normal to provide the support because the VRS was established on the remains of the former army in the Bosnian territory’. The cross-examination of the witness proceeded for the most part in closed session.

The trial of General Perisic continues tomorrow. He is charged with providing support to the VRS and the SVK troops as the chief of the VJ General Staff; the prosecution alleges that he thus contributed to their crimes in Sarajevo, Srebrenica and Zagreb.