Bosnia arrests seven former Serbian police officers for wartime killings
Goran Saric, one of the arrested suspects. Photo: BIRN.
Police officers from the National Investigation and Protection Agency on Friday arrested seven people suspected of being involved in the killings of 22 Bosnians, including seven children and eight women, in the village of Balatun, near Bijeljina, during the war. September 1992.
“People accused of having participated directly in the execution of the victims are among the suspects who have been arrested,” the Bosnian prosecution said in a statement.
The prosecution said the suspects have been arrested in several towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina and will be handed over to the prosecutor for questioning.
One of those arrested was Goran Saric, former commander of a special brigade of the Bosnian Serb police, who has already been acquitted in two separate cases by the Bosnian state court for involvement in the Srebrenica genocide in 1995 and for participation in war crimes in Sarajevo in 1992.
The other men who were arrested are Zivan Miljanovic, deputy commander of the public security station in Bijeljina, Stevo Bokaric, an agent of the state security services in Bijeljina, Jovica Petrovic and Mirko Simic from the public security station in Bijeljina, and Ljubo Markovic and Slavenko Kocevic, members of a special unit of the Bosnian Serb police known as Pahuljice (snowflakes).
Twenty-two members of the Sarajlic, Sejmenovic and Malagic families, including seven children, were abducted from their homes in Bukres near Bijeljina and killed on the banks of the Drina in the village of Balatun at dawn on September 25, 1992.
The remains of 13 of the victims were found in a cemetery in the Serbian town of Sremska Mitrovica in 2002. Five other bodies of victims were subsequently found and buried, while four victims are still missing.
Goran Saric was acquitted in 2018 of aiding members of a joint criminal enterprise in the genocide of the Bosnians of Srebrenica, and of giving orders and exercising control over his deputy Ljubomir Borovcanin, who was convicted by The Hague Tribunal for committing crimes in Srebrenica. .
Saric told BIRN in an interview in 2019 that crimes had been committed in Srebrenica, but that he did not know who was responsible for them and why it had happened, as he was deployed to the Sarajevo area in the era.
He also insisted that he had never ordered crimes and that he “only did what they ordered you to do and what had to be done during the war”.
“Regardless of whether I was an official or a police chief, or later in the second phase of the war, a commander, I could not influence any decision, any battle or any event,” he said. -he declares.