Branko Popovic (a.k.a. Marko Pavlovic) was born in 1949 in Sombor in Serbia. On 28 April 1992, he was appointed as Commander of the Territorial Defence Staff and member of the War Staff in Zvornik, Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 16 June 1992 he was appointed as head of the Military Territory Command by Branko Grujic who held the presidential offices in the Crisis Staff, Municipality, Provisional Government and War Staff in Zvornik.
On an unestablished date, which was most probably 26 May 1992, Popovic and Grujic allegedly organized and conducted voluntary evacuation of residents of the village of Divici; the evacuation resulted in failure, whereupon the villagers were returned to the bus station in Zvornik, on 27 May 1992. The column of refugees was composed of men, women, old people and children, mainly Muslims. Upon their return to the Zvornik bus station, the refugees were met by the members of the Serbian Municipality Zvornik Territorial Defence, who removed 174 men aged between 18 and 60 from the column and took them to the “Novi Izvor” administration building, where they were withheld in detention. Subsequently, the next day, on 28 May 1992, the Territorial Defence forces transferred the remaining 163 civilians to the Home of Culture in Celopek, wherein they were held confined without basic facilities for personal hygiene, such as water or bedding. Several members from the special unit of the Territorial Defence forces, who conducted “their own investigation”, entered several times the Home of Culture in Celopek, in the day and at night, acting alone or in smaller groups, looting money and gold jewels from the detained civilians. They were regularly tortured, mutilated or killed.
Although aware of the illegal conducts of the special unit, Popovic and Grujic failed to prevent such actions. These practice continued until 1 July 1992, when the remaining 116 survivors were transferred to the prison facilities in Zvornik, and subsequently, on 15 July 1992, 83 of them to the exchange camp in the village of Batkovic. During these events at the Home of Culture in Celopek, 19 civilians were killed.
Furthermore, on the date of 26 June 1992, Popovic and Grujic allegedly ordered and, aided by the Territorial Defence units, forcibly conducted the mass evacuation of 1822 civilians of the then Muslim nationality, from the territories of the villages Kozluk and Skocic to the Republic of Hungary.
On 1 June 1992, Grujic and Popovic ordered the Territorial Defense Force of Zvornik to arrest 700 military-aged muslim men and to detain them in the Technical School Center (TSC) in Karakaj. They were detained in inhuman and degrading conditions without appropriate ventilation, which resulted in the suffocation of several persons on that same day. They remained in these conditions until 5 June 1992, when the hostages were transported to the Cultural Center in Pilica. On 8 June 1992, around 400 of them were allegedly taken to a place called “Gero’s Butchery”, in Karakaj, where they were massacred. The bodies of approximately 250 of them were later discovered in a mass grave while the bodies of other men are still missing. Grujic and Popovic allegedly knew about these incidents, but did not take any measures to prevent them.
In addition, Popovic was allegedly involved in a number of crimes at the “Ekonomija” farm and at the “Ciglana” site in Zvornik. From the 5th to the 12th May 1992, numerous civilians were confined at “Ekonomija” farm, where a number of them where seriously injured and subjected to inhumane treatments. On 12 May 1992, 22 civilians were transferred to the “Ciglana” site and were subjected to forced labour. This resulted in the death of at least two civilians. Popovic was allegedly aware of the offences and did nothing to prevent them.
Popovic and Grujic were indicted on 12 August 2005 by the Office of the War Crimes Prosecutor of the Republic of Serbia.