The first indictment for crimes committed against girls and young women kept in the Vilina Vlas ‘rape camp’ near Visegrad, eastern Bosnia, has been confirmed by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.Oliver Krsmanovic was a close ally of Bosnian Serb commander Milan Lukic, sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTY.
By Nidzara Ahmetasevic in Sarajevo
Krsmanovic, according to this indictment, was a member of the 2nd Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1995. He is indicted for crimes against humanity and violating the laws and practices of warfare. The prosecution claims Krsmanovic “perpetrated and aided in the perpetration of murders and enforced disappearances of the non-Serb civilian population of Višegrad”. They will try to prove that he participated in “severe deprivation of physical liberty and other inhumane acts intentionally causing strong bodily and mental pain and suffering” of civilians.
[related-articles]According to this indictment, Krsmanovic on 27 June 1992, together with Lukić and members of his group, imprisoned 70 Bosnian Muslim civilians in the settlement of Bikavac where they were locked in a house and burned alive.
Krsmanovic was free until May this year even though he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2003 in Serbia for participating, again with Lukic, in the massacre on 22 October 1992 of 16 Bosnian Muslims from the village of Sjeverin. They were abducted from the village of Mioce, and taken to Vilina Vlas where they were tortured and later executed at the banks of the river Drina.
Krsmanovic may become the first ever person to be sentenced for crimes commited in Vilina Vlas, the place where during 1992 more than 200 girls and women were kept, some of them for more than one month, brutally tortured and repeatedly raped. Some of the victims were as young as 12. According to association Women Victims of War, only four women survived this rape camp.
The bodies of others have still not been found, but it is believed that some could be identified among bodily remains found this year at the bottom of the Lake of Perucac, near Visegrad.
One of them, A.T. – a protected witness in one of the Visegrad-related cases before the Court of BiH, told this author that she was kept in a room with four other women, kept in handcuffs and gang-raped daily. “They abused us in unspeakable ways. They burned me with cigarettes, cut my body with a knife and ripped flesh from my mouth.
“We couldn’t talk. We just stared into a point in the corner, crayed and completely lost. We didn’t know what time it was. The only time we knew was when they came for us,” she recalled.
Even though survivors spoke about Lukic’s role in establishing and running this camp, he was not indicted by the ICTY for crimes in Vilina Vlas. Years ago, asked by victims’ assosiations why Lukic was not indicted for Vilina Vlas crimes, foremer chief prosecutor in The Hague Carla del Ponte, said that the prosecution could not find enough witnesses to come forward with such evidence.
Krsmanovic is currently in detention after the State prosecution in Bosnia claimed that some of the potential witnesses in this case had asked for protection because they were afraid of the suspect.
Until his arrest, Krsmanovic lived freely in Visegrad. After his arrest, he said that he had lived in his house in Visegrad and that nobody ever came to look for him until May this year. The association Women Victims of War has repeatedly asked for this arrest over the years.