Despite being identified in the testimonies of the survivors and the signatures on the documents used during the Hague proceedings for the murders of more than 200 people in July 1992, including a four-month-old baby, research shows that at least three members of the 17th Light Infantry Brigade of the Army of the Republika Srpska (VRS) and members of the Militia Station in Sanica have never been held accountable by the local judiciary for this mass crime in Biljani near Kljuc.
Only one person has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the murders in Biljani before local courts, two people have been acquitted, and one person died after being accused.
Material evidence, which relates exclusively to Biljani, is scarce, but, together with the testimonies of the survivors, it was sufficient for the Hague Tribunal to establish the facts of the crimes.
In several Hague documents, on which some of the five judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) are based, it is stated that units of the 17th Light Infantry Brigade of the VRS from Kljuc, as well as members of the Militia Station from Sanica, participated in the “blockade, search, and clearing of the terrain in Biljani,” while the survivors from this place say that the backbone was the 17th Brigade from Kljuc, the Sanica Battalion and its Third Troop, and the reserve and civilian police force from Sanica.
Magbula Mesanovic says that she made a lot of efforts to help prosecutors find those responsible for the death of her 21-year-old son Admir, a second-year student at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Sarajevo, and her husband Hajrudin, a teacher at an elementary school in Biljani. The last time she saw them was in the morning hours of July 10th, 1992, when soldiers knocked on the door of the family house in the place of Mesanovici.
”I jumped up and opened the window, and I saw some men. They said: ‘Men, out,’” she recalls and describes how her husband quickly left, and her son was looking for boots because he thought he would be imprisoned on Manjaca.
She says that even today she does not know where her son and husband were killed, who were exhumed from mass graves after the war.
The first murders at the school
According to the judgments of the Hague Tribunal, on July 10th, 1992, around 200 people were killed in Biljani, who were previously captured and taken away from their homes by members of the army and police, and among the victims were women, old people, and a four-month-old baby.
In the verdict against Ratko Mladic, the former commander of the Main Staff of the VRS, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, among other things, for the crimes committed in Kljuc, it is stated that some of the murders were committed in or around the school in Biljani, and others after the detainees were taken away from the school by buses.
At Mladic’s trial, witness RM-010 said that the men of military age were ordered to gather in a nearby meadow, after which they were taken to the school in Biljani, where, according to him, the killings began already in the schoolyard, before most of the prisoners were taken to the bus, through a barrage of soldiers who beat them, when they were told that they would be taken to the prisoner exchange in Kljuc.
During his testimony, RM-010 said that in the meadow, where the men were first gathered, he saw Marko Samardzija, the only person sentenced to seven years in prison by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) for the crime in Biljani.
The indictments were dropped despite the testimony of Biljani residents
Apart from Marko Samardzija, who was a teacher at the school in Biljani, the former commander of the town’s defense, Marko Adamovic, and the former commander of the Municipal Headquarters of the Territorial Defense, Bosko Lukic, were tried for this crime. However, although they were sentenced for a crime against humanity in Kljuc to 20, that is, 12 years in prison, they were acquitted for the attack on Biljani, because the mentioned events fall outside the time frame for which their guilt was established.
The Prosecutor’s Office of BiH confirmed that there is an active case in which an investigation is being conducted against several persons for the events of July 10th, 1992 in the area of Biljani, as well as other temporally and spatially related events.
Despite the information about the hearing of so many witnesses and the existence of cases against several people, the survivors and family members of the murdered do not hide their indignation at the work of the judiciary and the fact that, 30 years after this crime, only one person has been convicted.
Magbula Mesanovic pointed out that she would be happy if someone was accused and found guilty if there is evidence for that, Detektor writes.