Wartime Bosnian Serb policemen Milenko Samardzija and Kosta Stanic were charged with participating in the shooting of 22 civilians, including women, children and elderly people, in the Bijeljina area in September 1992.

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Bosnia Indicts Two Ex-Policemen for Wartime Murders of 22 Civilians

Houses from which civilians were seized in 1992 in the Bukres neighbourhood of Bijeljina. Photo: BIRN.

The state prosecution in Sarajevo on Friday charged ex-policemen Milenko Samardzija, alias Travka or Zabac, and Kosta Stanic, alias Kole, with willingly participating in the murders of 22 Bosniak civilians in the village of Balatun, near the eastern Bosnian city of Bijeljina.

“The defendants have been charged with having participated, personally and directly, in the shooting and killing of the victims, the oldest of whom was a 72-year-old woman and the youngest a six-year-old boy. Five victims who were younger than 18 were killed in the crime,” the prosecution said in a statement.

The indictment alleges that in September 1992, the suspects participated in forcibly removing the civilians from their houses, transporting them in military trucks and shooting them on the banks of the River Drina in the village of Balatun.

The 22 victims were members of the Sarajlic, Sejmenovic and Malagic families. After being shot, their bodies were thrown into the Drina.

The victims had not participated in hostilities or military operations in any way, the prosecution said.

Samardzija is also charged with having participated, about ten days prior to the shootings, in the unlawful forced removal of three Bosniak civilians from their houses and from public spaces to the police station, where he tortured and abused them.

He then allegedly transported them to the banks of River Drina in the village of Balatun, where he personally killed three civilians by shooting them at close range.

The indictment has been filed to the state court for confirmation.

This is the second indictment to be raised over the killings in Balatun; the first was confirmed by the state court in January.

The first indictment charged Zivan Miljanovic, assistant commander of the Public Security Station in Bijeljina, Stevo Bokaric, member of the State Security Service in Bijeljina, Jovica Petrovic and Mirko Simic, members of the Interventions Squad at the Public Security Station, Goran Saric, former commander of the Special Brigade of the Republika Srpska Police, and Ljubo Markovic, Slavenko Kocevic and Zvonko Przulj, members of a Republika Srpska Interior Ministry special squad known as the Pahuljice (Snowflakes).

The trial in this case was due to begin on March 29, but it was postponed because defendant Saric failed to appear.

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