Archive for Oliver Krsmanovic

Oliver Krsmanovic: Beatings in Barracks

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2012 by visegrad92

 

Image: Oliver Krsmanovic

Justice Report       BIRN        Sarajevo

The witness, Adem Sisic, testified that he had heard about Krsmanovic’s role in the Uzamnica barracks from Ilijas Cuprija and Saban Muratovic, who were imprisoned there toghether with his son in 1992.

“Ilijas came to me and told me that Bajro is in the Uzamnica camp. They were there together. He told me he had been beaten by Oliver Krsmanovic and two others named Srdjan and Lukic,” said Sisic.

He added that Saban Muratovic told him in 1994 that his son was murdered.

“He told me that he was exchanged and that my son was killed. My wife immediately had a heart attack. He said that Oliver, Lukic and Srdjan were beating people up,” said the witness, adding that he heard his 24-year son was taken from the barracks and never came back.

Krsmanovic is charged with taking part in torturing civilians in the Uzamnica barracks in the summer 1992.

He is on trial as a member of the Second Podrinje Light Infantry Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska for murders, rapes and forced disappearances of Bosniaks in Visegrad.

Sisic said that his son was in the army, which was organized in the village as a “defense from Serbs”.

Examining the witness, the defendant Krsmanovic claimed that the man who told him about his son was called Saban Muratagic and not Muratovic, and that he was the “biggest beater” in Uzamnica.

“He had to do it what he was told,” replied the witness.

At this hearing two protected prosection witnesses, OK-12 and OK-13,  also gave testimony, but they were examined in a session closed to the public.

Source

Visegrad mass murderers: Oliver Krsmanovic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 1, 2012 by visegrad92

Facts of the Indictment:

The Indictment alleges inter alia that in the period from spring 1992 to the fall 1995, the Accused Oliver Krsmanović, as a member of the 2nd Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade, perpetrated and aided in the perpetration of murders and enforced disappearances of the non-Serb civilian population of Višegrad Municipality. According to the Indictment, the Accused Krsmanović participated in severe deprivation of physical liberty and other inhumane acts intentionally causing strong bodily and mental pain and suffering to the non-Serb civilians. It is also alleged that on 27 June 1992, the Accused Krsmanović, together with Milan Lukić and members of his group, participated in an unlawful imprisonment of 70 Bosniak civilians and their killing in the settlement of Bikavac, Višegrad Municipality. In early June 1992, the Accused Krsmanović participated in the rape and other forms of grave sexual abuse of the Bosniak women unlawfully detained in the Vilina Vlas hotel in Višegrad Municipality. (Source: Court of Bosnia & Herzegovine)

Biggest Bosnia rape camp: first indictment

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by visegrad92

23.11.2011

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


Human torch
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.

Sjeverin massacre
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 lake
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.

Detention
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.

 

Source

Oliver Krsmanovic arrested!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 31, 2011 by visegrad92

 

Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1992, Visegrad.

Oliver Krsmanovic was a member of the Bosnian Serb Army special unit “Avengers” which committed mass murder and rape against the Bosniak population in Visegrad and surrounding areas.

Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1980′s, Visegrad.

Oliver is wanted for crimes and rape committed in Visegrad and for abduction and murder of Muslim civilians in the Sjeverin case. In October 1992, 16 civilians – citizens of Yugoslavia were abducted in Sjeverin(Serbia) by members of the “Avengers” – brought to Visegrad, tortured and murdered. Their remains are yet to be found.

Oliver was arrested last night in Visegrad after “hiding” for years.

Post-war Visegrad: Special Report

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 28, 2008 by visegrad92

IWPR published an article about the situation in post-war Visegrad were genocide denial is still present.

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Visegrad in Denial Over Grisly Past

More than a decade after the war, few Serb residents are ready to confront the horrors that were perpetrated there.

By Rachel Irwin and Edina Becirevic in Visegrad (TU No 582, 27-Dec-08)

View of Visegrad.
Bridge across the Drina, built by the Ottomans in the late 16th century.
On the bridge at Visegrad.
Drina river, seen from the Visegrad bridge.
Vilina Vlas hotel.

When asked if she was aware of what happened in Visegrad during the war, the waitress’s face quickly tightened into a frown.

She doesn’t know anything, she says, crossing her arms and glancing nervously around the empty, darkened hotel cafe. She didn’t live here then, she says.

That seems to be a common refrain in this eastern Bosnian town.

Nestled in the mountains, and boasting a 16th-century Ottoman stone bridge that stretches majestically across the emerald-tinted Drina river, Visegrad could hardly be more picturesque.

But the natural beauty of the town and its surroundings belies the horror that gripped this region during the summer of 1992, when Bosnian Serb paramilitaries carried out a violent campaign to rid the area of Bosnian Muslims, or Bosniaks.

That summer, as many witnesses have testified in trials at The Hague tribunal, the historic UNESCO-protected bridge was the scene of executions of Bosniak men, women and children, whose bodies were thrown into the river, often in broad daylight. By autumn, 3,000 Bosniaks had been killed. Many more simply disappeared.

Currently standing trial at the Hague tribunal, Bosnian Serb cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukic are accused of responsibility for many of the outrages perpetrated at this time.

The men, who say they are innocent, are charged with burning 140 Bosniak men, women and children alive in barricaded houses.

An associate of Milan Lukic, Mitar Vasiljevic, was sentenced by the tribunal to 20 years in prison in 2002 for aiding and abetting the murders of seven Bosniaks in Visegrad.

In their decision on the Vasiljevic case, tribunal judges wrote that Visegrad was subjected to “one of the most comprehensive and ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict”. They added that, proportionally, no other Bosnian town except Srebrenica underwent a more drastic change in ethnic composition.

Before the war, 60 per cent of Visegrad’s 20,000 residents were Bosniak. Today, only a handful of survivors have returned to what is a predominantly Serb town.

The killings in Visegrad are also included in the first count of genocide against former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic, who was apprehended in July after 13 years on the run.

HOTEL AT CENTRE OF ABUSE CLAIMS

The Vilina Vlas hotel and health spa, where the waitress bristled at questions, is a short drive from the centre of town and surrounded by woods and a steep, pebble-filled ravine. The hotel’s website extols the healing properties of the spa’s waters and boasts of a large dining room perfect for business lunches.

From this mild description, one would never suspect that Vilina Vlas allegedly served a much grislier purpose during the war.

According to the prosecutor’s pre-trial brief in the Lukic case, Vilina Vlas “was used by Milan Lukic and his paramilitaries to detain and interrogate Bosnian Muslim civilian men as well as to rape and sexually enslave young Muslim women and girls”.

The alleged events at the hotel, and the allegation of rape, were not included in the final indictment against Lukic. The presumption of innocence relating to these allegations must therefore stand.

However, there is a substantial body of reports that suggest something terrible happened at Vilina Vlas. The alleged abuse there – which was documented as early as 1993 by the United Nations, Amnesty International and foreign journalists – was so severe that some women are reported to have jumped from second or third storey windows to their deaths. It is claimed that hundreds of others were held in the guestrooms for days or weeks at a time, where they were allegedly brutally raped, mutilated, and often killed.

In one of the many statements collected by the Research and Documentation Centre, RDC, in Sarajevo, a Bosniak woman spoke of her ordeal at the hotel with the Serb who brought her there.

“He raped me from 12.00 to 21.00 hours on that day. All that time, he held a knife in his hand, or within reach,” he said.

The few remaining survivors declined to be interviewed for this article, citing the trauma of retelling their story.

These days, Vilina Vlas caters to elderly visitors who come to bathe in the medicinal waters. Inside the hotel, heavy curtains are drawn on most of the windows and the air is stale from cigarette smoke. The furnishings in the lobby and cafe area are dark red, but heavily worn and faded with age.

The middle-aged Serb waitress, clearly uncomfortable with questions about the hotel’s past, shuffled across the vast dining room and headed downstairs to the lobby. She emerged moments later with a slender man who sat and watched the cafe’s only guests for several minutes, followed by another burlier man, who did the same.

All attempts to interview staff at Vilina Vlas ended in the same way – they said they knew nothing of what happened there during the war.

There is no suggestion that current staff members worked at Vilina Vlas in the early Nineties. Instead, we talked to them because like any other residents of this small town, they could reasonably expected to have some memory of its recent history, and – given where they work – to be aware of the stories surrounding the hotel in particular.

“Visegrad is a small town. They can’t not know,” said Mirsada Tabakovic, a Bosniak who fled Visegrad in June of 1992. She accompanied IWPR journalists to Vilina Vlas, and was present during the encounter with the hotel staff.

Tabakovic now lives in Sarajevo, where she works on behalf of rape victims and has helped to collect statements from many of those who survived the alleged abuse at Vilina Vlas.

“They are all in a terrible state,” she said. “They suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Most of them are not able to lead a normal life.”

And Tabakovic has endured her own trauma.

On May 19, 1992 – the day that the then Yugoslav army withdrew from Bosnia – soldiers with Serbian accents arrived at her door, she said, and took away her husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law; the last time she ever saw them alive.

Tabakovic hid with a Bosnian Serb friend in Visegrad until she was able to leave on an organised convoy on June 14 of that year. Her husband’s body was found eight years ago in a mass grave.

Tabakovic brushed her blonde hair away from her face and looked around the dining room – at the stony-faced waitress behind the espresso bar, the two hovering managers smoking cigarettes, the elderly guests climbing the stairs in their sweat suits, and at a half eaten cake in the humming cafe fridge.

“How can those people behave as if nothing happened here?” she asked incredulously.

Having coffee at a place like Vilina Vlas was clearly excruciating for Tabakovic, and she shifted in her chair, barely touching her drink.

“I was looking at those walls thinking about how many untold stories of pain they will keep secret,” she later remarked. “We have heard a lot about what happened at Vilina Vlas, but there is so much we will not hear, especially because they decided not to include rape in [Milan] Lukic’s indictment.”

As IWPR reported in July, the failure to charge Milan Lukic with rape provoked anger and astonishment from victims and NGOs. (See http://www.iwpr.net/?p=tri&s=f&o=345969&apc_state=henitri2008).

Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte had omitted the charges from his indictment in order to speed up his trial, since the tribunal is under pressure to complete all cases by the end of 2009.

Del Ponte retired at the end of 2007, but the prosecution waited until last June – just a month before the trial was to begin – to resubmit the rape count. The judges deemed the submission too late, and the trial commenced with the charge absent from the indictment.

“WE KNOW NOTHING”

Acting as though nothing happened – or claiming not to know anything – was not a reaction exclusive to those at Vilina Vlas.

In a narrow, unheated room in the centre of Visegrad, several members of the right-leaning political party Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD, huddled around a long table. They were eager to talk about the economic problems plaguing the town, and about plans to expand job opportunities and tourist attractions.

“We expect a lot from tourism,” said Brane Topalovic, an SNSD leader with a small frame and greying hair. “We have a spa, Vilina Vlas. We expect to expand its capacity, and there are plans to construct another hotel and a swimming pool.”

When asked, he claimed not to know about the rape and murder that allegedly occurred at the state-owned Vilina Vlas during the war.

“Look, I don’t know, even today, what happened in Visegrad,” he said, underlining that he only moved to the town in 1996. “I only know what people tell me.”

And what is that?

“Some tell one story, others tell something completely different,” he said, appearing increasingly agitated. He added that while he does not follow the trials at the Hague tribunal, he did meet Milan Lukic in 1996.

“[Milan] was a good-looking man,” he said. “He did not have any problems with law enforcement then.”

Another member of the SNDS, an elderly man in a blue jacket, nodded his head in agreement before launching into a speech about the “Muslim extremists” who he said started the conflict.

“According to propaganda, 3,000 Muslims were killed here,” he said. “I guarantee that this is a lie. What happened here was a civil war.”

During the ensuing discussion, a theme emerged: no one at the table knew what happened during the summer of 1992 because they claimed to have been living elsewhere, or to have already left the area. They said they did not see any crimes committed themselves, and thus considered any stories of atrocities in Visegrad to be rumours and nothing more.

Did they think the accounts of what happened at Vilina Vlas were just rumours?

“I don’t know,” answered Topalovic, the party leader.

At that point, a middle-aged man sitting quietly at the back of the room interjected. He appeared uncomfortable with some of his friends’ statements, and attempted to explain them.

Cedomir Guzina grew up in Sarajevo, and fought in the Bosnian Serb army during the 44-month siege of the city. After the war ended, he came to Visegrad, and spent the next four years living at Vilina Vlas with other Serbs who had left their home towns.

“No one ever mentioned the crimes people talk about now,” said Guzina. “I heard people talking about it only after Milan Lukic had left town, after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Maybe the people who were with him [then] know more, but nobody talks about it and we know nothing.”

Darko Andric, a tall young man in jeans and a white sweater, sat tensely listening to Guzina speak. He was a child during the war, and said his family left Visegrad in the spring of 1992.

“Even if something happened here, no one knows about it,” he said. “That’s why it’s stupid to answer your questions. I heard there was some kind of hospital there [at Vilina Vlas] during the war. They say the water has healing powers. The wounded were there and doctors took care of them… hundreds of people were saved. Who knows how many amputations took place there?”

According to scholars, this sort of denial is extremely common – and even expected – after atrocities have been inflicted on a civilian population.

“Because you have guilt about what your group did to this other group, you wind up not wanting to acknowledge it. It reflects on you,” anthropologist Gregory Stanton told IWPR. Stanton, founder and president of international organisation Genocide Watch, is a former employee of the United States State Department, where he helped to draft the UN resolution that created the war crimes tribunal in Rwanda.

In Germany, for example, it took at least 20 years for the country to begin coming to terms with the Holocaust, Stanton explained.

While the Bosnian war officially ended 13 years ago, some observers feel that Bosnian Serbs, in particular, still have a long way to go in facing up to their role in atrocities committed, especially when it comes to the crime of rape.

“There are men who will admit they committed crimes against humanity before they will acknowledge rape,” said Sara Sharratt, a clinical psychologist, who for the last three years has co-directed a project for women who testify about sexual violence at The Hague tribunal and Bosnian courts.

“There is more acknowledgement in larger towns, but still nowhere near where it needs to be,” she told IWPR. “My sense is that it’s not coming in the near future…. There hasn’t been a lot of healing.”

Part of the problem, say others, is the overall atmosphere of denial that still permeates the Serbian part of Bosnia – Republika Srpska – and Serbia itself.

Sonja Biserko, chairwoman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, said that during the war, the media in Serbia dispensed an enormous amount of pro-Serb, anti-Bosniak propaganda.

“This was a preventative war against a genocidal [Bosniak] force – that’s how the media framed it,” she said.

Even now, she added, many Serbs are reluctant to confront what went on during the war, and seem content to leave it to “history” to assess what happened.

A common phrase repeated in Serbia these days is “history will say what happened”, she said. “This is what you hear all the time, even in the media.”

“But what is history?” she asked. “The passage of time?”

SUSPECTS ALLEGEDLY LIVING IN TOWN

Sitting at an outdoor cafe by the banks of the Drina, a Bosnian Serb man lit a cigarette and pointed at the old Ottoman bridge.

“Look, that bridge was built in 1571,” he said. “There were as many people killed there [during the war] as there are bricks in the bridge. It’s the biggest graveyard.”

After a moment, he added, “I never cross that bridge. I use the one down there to go to work.”

The man, who lived in Visegrad during the summer of 1992 and continues to do so, added that when the Drina became full of bodies, someone would open a sluice gate on a dam located downstream on the river to flush them away.

He agreed to speak to IWPR on condition of anonymity, as he feared he might be targeted for speaking out. As he spoke, he would periodically look around to see whether anyone was watching. Talking about the war isn’t something people do here.

Many residents, he explained, had been offered large sums of money to remain silent, especially since some suspected – and even convicted – war criminals are known to be living in town.

One of those that he mentioned specifically was Oliver Krsmanovic, a former associate of Milan Lukic. Both men were sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by a Belgrade criminal court in 2003.

Lukic and Krsmanovic, along with two other men, were convicted of abducting 16 Bosniaks from a bus in the Serbian border town of Sjeverin on October 22, 1992. The kidnapped men were taken to Visegrad where they were tortured, then executed on the banks of the Drina, prosecutors alleged. Their remains have yet to be found.

Jasna Sarcevic-Jankovic, a spokeswoman for the office of the war crimes prosecutor in Belgrade, confirmed that Krsmanovic is still at large. She said that the prosecutor’s office does not have any new information on his whereabouts, and that it was up to the police to apprehend him.

But the Visegrad resident IWPR spoke to claimed to know exactly where Krsmanovic is hiding.

“I saw Oliver Krsmanovic the day before yesterday,” he said. “He has not left his house in years. If they want to arrest him, they should come to me, and I will help them approach his house at night. I guarantee they’ll find him in his room.”

Taking a sip of his espresso, he said he didn’t know why Krsmanovic hadn’t been arrested, since his whereabouts are something of an open secret around town.

When asked whether he was haunted by the things he witnessed, the man was quiet for a moment.

“I could not sleep the first year [after the war ended],” he said. “I was taking sleeping pills. [But] I never did anything to harm anybody and I think I did much to help.”

On a few occasions, he said, he hid Bosniak children in his house until he was able to transfer them to Bosniak-held territory.

As he sat back in the yellow cafe chair, the man alternated between expressing fears of being exposed and a brazen willingness to speak openly.

”I am not afraid,” he said. “They can do whatever they please to me. Three thousand [murdered] people are more important than me.”

Rachel Irwin is an IWPR reporter in The Hague. Edina Becirevic is a senior lecturer at the University of Sarajevo.

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